The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


Kevin Dillard

 Kevin Dillard
Photo by John Schreiber, The Daily Campus
Kevin Dillard

Kevin Dillard (Photo by John Schreiber, The Daily Campus)

What makes a university desirable? Top tier faculty? Most definitely. Academic excellence? Of course. A nice lawn? Well. Yes. Beautiful grass, colorful flowerbeds and big shade trees all add to the ambiance of a campus.

At SMU, that’s especially true. Many students, faculty and visitors say that our campus is a lovely one.

And the person responsible for it all? Kevin Dillard, SMUs plant operations manager.

“I want to bring more character to the campus, so when people go home they will continue talking about how beautiful it was,” he said.

Joseph Whitmer, an SMU graduate and owner of Daybreak Landscapes in Carrollton, recalls seeing the SMU campus for the first time.

“I thought it was beautiful and it definitely influenced my decision to go there,” he said.

Dillard, 49, grew up in Bunker Hills, Ill and worked with a private landscaping company for several years after graduating from college. He tried other career options, but eventually landed back where he began – in the landscaping business.

His family, including his wife and two daughters, moved to Dallas in 1998, and Dillard began working for the Dallas Arboretum. A few years later he and a few other staff members from the Arboretum came to work for SMU.

Dillard said he spends most of his time doing the design and administration work for the campus. His office in the Dawson building is filled with blueprints. His desk is covered with family photos.

“I’m not spending near as much time on the field as I did for the first two years,” he said.

Dillard manages a crew of 19 members. The crew is in charge of the irrigation, installation, maintenance, turf, shrubs, trees, flowerbeds and design.

Dillard is constantly working on future projects so he always has something for his crew to do. He said he strives to keep the SMU grounds diverse.

“I try not to have the same plants all over campus,” he said. “I want the SMU campus to be a showcase of what people can do at their home.”

Chris Foster, a senior advertising major, thinks the landscaping creates a sense of calmness and serenity, proving the students a retreat.

“I like to sit outside on a bench when it’s a nice day and admire the trees and colorful flowers, it gives me a place to escape and reflect,” he said.

Dillard typically comes up with the master design for the entire campus. Then he sits with his crew and discusses the design.

“We blend our ideas together and change things up so everyone is involved,” he said.

Dillard and his staff have recently re-irrigated and landscaped around Perkins Administration and Mcfarlin Auditorium. This year they hope to work on the grounds around the Cox business school.

Dillard is also searching for ways to conserve water. The university is considering using a computerized water system that would be controlled from one location, just like a centralized heating and air system. This way the crew can spend less time running around campus to turn water on and off.

“We would be able to react quicker and save water,” he said.

Even with all of his hard work on campus, he doesn’t forget about his own lawn.

“If I want to relax I go work on my garden, lawn or sometimes play a round of golf,” he said.

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