Cameron University dedicates Bentley Gardens at heart of Cameron campus

Much like the transformation from a caterpillar into a butterfly, Cameron University today celebrated the continuing transformation of the Lawton campus with the addition of the lush 2.6 acre Bentley Gardens in a spring-inspired dedication ceremony led by students, faculty and staff who released 200 Monarch butterflies to mark the momentous occasion.  

President Cindy Ross was joined by donors Stephen F. Bentley and Don Bentley, publishers of the Lawton Constitution, Glenda and Charles Turner, and Phyllis A. Young and Pauline Harrold Young for the dedication. Also joining them for the festivities were Cameron alumnus State Regent Bill Burgess; Chairman Larry Wade of the University of Oklahoma, Cameron University and Rogers State University Board of Regents; Dr. Chris Purcell, Vice President for University Governance and Executive Secretary of the Board; and Cameron student Julianne Moini of Lawton.

Bentley Gardens ceremony

Brightly clad students, faculty and staff joined Cameron University President Cindy Ross and a host of dignitaries for the dedication of the university’s Bentley Gardens, located at the heart of the Cameron campus. Wearing colorful Bentley Gardens t-shirts, the group released 200 Monarch butterflies at the conclusion of the ceremony.

"The Bentley Gardens are the heart of our campus," said President Ross. "Anchored on the west by the new technology rich Business Building and on the east by our popular student living/learning center Cameron Village; to our south, the Fitness Center and Shepler Towers; and on the north by the Science Complex and the hub of campus life, the McMahon Centennial Complex, the Gardens tie all of our new construction together. These Gardens will define this campus. The new buildings provide the look of a university; the Gardens provide the feel of a university.

"As generations of students attend Cameron, these Gardens will mature and flourish. These Gardens will be the place where friends meet, students study, where marriage proposals are made, and provide the perfect setting for graduation pictures. These Gardens will grow, develop, and mature alongside our Cameron students. In years to come when graduates visualize campus, in their mind's eye, they will see these Gardens. When students return to campus following an extended absence - perhaps with their own children - these Gardens will be the place they return to."

For Moini, a senior majoring in Organizational Leadership, Bentley Gardens has already become a memorable location, as her boyfriend surprised her with a marriage proposal in the gazebo earlier this year. Her wedding reception will take place in the McMahon Centennial Complex, which overlooks Bentley Gardens, in July.

The Bentley Gardens were funded primarily by private monies and are named in honor of Stephen F. Bentley and Don Bentley, who generously donated $400,000 towards its construction. President Ross acknowledged their role in the development of the Gardens.

"We recognize and thank Don and Steve Bentley for their vision, leadership and generosity," she said. "They have been contributing to Southwest Oklahoma for decades. As co-publishers of the Lawton Constitution, they have continued a family legacy of excellence in the field of newspaper publishing. They also give above and beyond their professional work in community and state service to ensure that Southwest Oklahoma - and Lawton in particular - is a better place to live."

The centerpiece of Bentley Gardens is the Tom and Monica McCasland Family Pond, named in recognition of Tom and Monica McCasland of Duncan, whose donation of $165,000 was key in the pond's construction. Monica McCasland is a Cameron alumna, and Tom and Monica are Century II President's Partners.

With an abundance of trees, shrubbery, and flowers, winding walkways, a pond, benches, tables and a gazebo, Bentley Gardens offers a gathering place for study, relaxation, and socializing for Cameron students, faculty and staff and members of the Southwest Oklahoma community. More than 140 trees of six different varieties, all selectively chosen for color, hardiness and overall beauty, populate the Gardens, along with more than 1,000 ornamental bushes of six different varieties. More than 4,300 flowers have been planted in a cascade of color combinations. The Gardens include 24 benches for relaxation and conversation surrounding the pond, with its flowing fountains that provide the peaceful sound of nature.

Locations within Bentley Gardens are designated as Areas of Repose. These areas of beauty and tranquility serve as places for reflection, study and relaxation and were funded by private contributions of $30,000 each. Cameron alumna Pauline Harrold Young and her daughter, Phyllis A. Young, were the first to contribute funds for this special area, honoring family members James "The Count" Altman Harrold, Sr. and Margarett "Maggie" Elizabeth Updegrove Harrold.

Another Area of Repose has been established by Glenda and Charles Turner to honor the late Jessie Pittman Dunbar, a 1934 graduate of Cameron Junior College who taught elementary school in Lawton. Mrs. Dunbar was a long-standing supporter of Cameron and was active in President's Partners until her death in 2007.  

"These Gardens would not be a reality without the support of very special friends of Cameron University," President Ross said. "We are deeply appreciative of the support that Cameron continues to receive from Southwest Oklahoma and beyond as Cameron provides a top quality education and a complete college experience for our students."


April 29, 2010