In November, the Board of Visitors voted to remove a number of prominent, mature magnolia trees so the leaky Rotunda roof could be fixed. Some students objected to the trees’ removal, and more than 2,200 signed petitions requesting that they be preserved.
“The Board members were informed that the magnolias are at the end of their projected lifespan and were planted too close to the building,” said UVA President Teresa Sullivan in November. “Arborists—our own as well as outside experts—believe that the repair work on the Rotunda will only exacerbate the trees’ already fragile state.” However, she concluded, “The work needed to preserve this great building is complex. With the good will of all, we will preserve the Rotunda and enable future generations to value and celebrate it.”
According to the Cavalier Daily, students planned to present their petition to University Architect David Neuman. In an email to the student paper, Neuman said that the 100-year-old trees pose potential threats to the Rotunda, a UNESCO World Heritage site that requires strict upkeep to preserve its status.