March 02, 2012

Ken Dehkes' Green Thumb Creates a Campus That's Not Only Beautiful, but Environmentally-Friendly

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Between terraced gardens, lush green lawns (perfect for afternoon study sessions), and historic buildings, one might call Hamline’s Saint Paul campus “an oasis in the city.”

The community largely has Ken Dehkes and his crew to thank for this. Dehkes, a long-time Hamline employee, has a degree in horticulture with a specialty in urban parks and landscape management. His passion for creating scenic spaces can be seen nearly everywhere on campus.

“We want campus to reflect Hamline’s values,” Dehkes said. “We strive to make it inviting, comforting, and lively.”

Originally hired as a grounds supervisor in 1989, Dehkes said his hard work and versatile skills saw him through to his current position as a director.

Besides being the driving force behind grounds management, he also devotes a large part of his time to other facilities operations, including building maintenance, renovations, and construction. His office employs several dozen full-time professionals and contractors along with many student workers.

Increasingly, Hamline has shifted to an environmentally-sound model and Dehkes also is at the forefront of this transformation. LED lights in the pool facility, for instance, will save more than $7,000 in electricity bills per year. Similar technology is slated for installation across campus by next summer. Other sustainability-minded efforts include creating rain gardens, planting native flora in landscaping, and utilizing permeable paver blocks for sidewalks.

The campus’s scenic, sustainable beauty has come with accolades; in January 2010, Hamline won a Silver Bloom Award from the City of Saint Paul for “creating an outstanding business/institutional landscaping.”

“Our campus has been here for over 150 years, and we want it to continue to be beautiful into the future,” Dehkes said.

Despite his many years of experience, Dehkes still enjoys getting positive feedback about the grounds and facilities from community members.

“We have a lot of pride in the work that we do, and we get satisfaction from a job well done,” Dehkes said. 

See some of Hamline's most beautiful outdoor spaces in the photo gallery below.

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