The Board of Directors of Taltree Arboretum & Gardens Foundation and Taltree’s Founders, Damien and Rita Gabis, have reached an agreement with Purdue University Northwest that will assure the sustainability of the educational, inspirational organization. The Taltree Arboretum and Gardens Foundation board and the Gabis family will donate the arboretum and its 300 plus acres to the university. PNW has agreed to continue to operate the property, to be renamed Gabis Arboretum at Purdue Northwest, as an arboretum for public, educational, conservation and recreational use.
Why is Taltree making this change?
Together, Taltree and PNW have an opportunity to be part of a unique partnership to advance learning, research and engagement in Northwest Indiana. This agreement represents a strong way for the Taltree board of directors and the Gabis family to leave the arboretum and its operations in good hands, while assuring the land will continue to be operated as an arboretum.
Plus, the two longtime community institutions have much in common. Both the arboretum and the university focus on enhancing the quality of life in the region; both support and advance economic development and sustainability; and both focus on providing educational and research opportunities for people throughout Northwest Indiana and beyond.
When will this change become effective?
A Gift Agreement between the parties was signed Dec. 18, 2017, and the agreement was announced publicly on Dec. 20. It is anticipated that the transfer of ownership will occur in early 2018.
Why will the name of the arboretum change?
The name is changing, but Purdue Northwest will bring much greater exposure to the arboretum overall due to the university’s regional, statewide and national recognition. The Gabises are the founders of the arboretum and donated the original property to the Taltree Foundation. The Foundation’s Board of Directors wanted to preserve the Gabis legacy. The decision to rename the arboretum came from the Taltree Foundation’s Board during the negotiation process to donate the arboretum to PNW, to honor the Gabis family by keeping their name associated with the arboretum for years to come.
Will Taltree’s mission in the community change?
Purdue Northwest is committed to continuing the stewardship of the arboretum for education, enjoyment and inspiration. PNW is excited about exploring the partnership opportunities that exist both from an educational and community perspective.
How will this impact Taltree employees?
Upon transfer of ownership, all regular/non-seasonal Taltree employees will be offered the opportunity to become staff members of Purdue University Northwest.
What changes will members, visitors and the public see at the arboretum as a result of the transition to PNW’s operation?
No immediate changes in programs or facilities are planned. Other than new signs announcing the name change, visitors and members will continue to recognize and enjoy the arboretum as they have in years past. Purdue University Northwest is committed to supporting and expanding the mission and impact of the arboretum and will initiate a planning process in the coming months.
Will PNW honor current Taltree memberships, including extended membership programs?
Yes, all current memberships will be honored.
How will this agreement impact Purdue Northwest faculty and students?
The partnership offers new ways for faculty and students to explore research and educational opportunities close to our two campuses. For example, ideas might include:
- Biology faculty conducting research on a number of distinct habitat types that have been preserved for decades on the property and are of enormous value from a biological and ecological perspective.
- Engineering and technology design teams working with arboretum staff to tackle potential projects from landscape to lighting, facilities improvements, and the highly complex scale model train system in the Railway Garden.
- Business and Marketing students and faculty developing a master marketing plan and strategic plan, and assisting in the design and production of related materials, media and images.
- Hospitality and Tourism Management students assisting with event management and service delivery for the many events and community functions hosted at the site.
- English, humanities and other faculty and students can collaborate to produce and perform theatrical productions on the arboretum grounds, such as Shakespeare in the Park, and theatre workshops for K-12 and the broader community.
- School of Education faculty and students can assist with the hundreds of K-12 student visits to the arboretum annually, as part of the educational process.
- Students can find volunteer and internship opportunities and part-time jobs at the arboretum.