by Dr. John A. Wott, Director Emeritus
The opening of the Center for Urban Horticulture was an event that captured international attention. The words on the official opening invitation stated,
“This is the first department of its kind in the country. Pioneering research on plants used in cities benefits urban landscapes everywhere. The department’s teaching and public service programs are valuable resources for the Northwest. The Center’s fifty-two acre campus is being built entirely by private donations.”
Shown in the photograph are several parts of the official invitation for its formal opening on September 27, 1984. Note that it was hand-written by Mrs. Pendleton (Elisabeth Carey) Miller, who was the prime organizer of the event. Also noteworthy are the guests who were listed on the invitation. They are Governor John Spellman, renowned plantsman Peter Coats, UW President William Gerberding, Provost George Beckman, Retired UW President Charles Odegaard; Director Harold Tukey; and Noted Arboretum Director Richard Howard. This was one of the first grand parties which Betty Miller and her friends held as the new Center for Urban Horticulture developed.
The Miller Library is one of the finest in the USA, and at one time the public outreach program (on all sites) had the second largest number of public contacts in the UW system (besides UW football). It continues to employ exceptional faculty and staff. It also continues to produce graduate students of the highest caliber and alumni are now listed in the “Who’s Who of Horticulture”. Over the years, CUH and the Washington Park Arboretum have become recognized throughout the horticultural world, and the system was copied across the USA as well as internationally. After 30-plus years, it still proudly carries on its mission.