Communication and Marketing

Rooted in a new tradition

Traditions Tree Project helps bring encouraging alumni messages to incoming class.

By Emalee (Sutherland) Rose ’04

Director of Annual Giving

The white pine tree is a symbol that unites us as one at Alma College. It’s at the center of our seal, on the mace, and all over our website, publications and papers. But the white pine isn’t just a symbol — the trees are literally all over campus, from the Stone Recreation Center to the Swanson Academic Center to Hamilton Commons.

What better way could there be to introduce our incoming class of first-year and transfer students to Alma College than to tell them about our white pine trees? As much as they tell us about our history, they embody so many qualities about the journey of the individual. They embody growth, renewal, and a connection to the community to which the incoming class now belongs.

Since 1985, it has been tradition at Alma College to gift incoming classes with an evergreen tree. This year, for the first time, we were pleased to add a new twist to this custom.

We gave our alumni and other supporters the opportunity to sponsor trees with personal messages of welcome and encouragement. As with any new initiative, we were a little cautious with respect to our expectations for this program.

But we were thrilled by the results. We ended up with 217 donors to the project: alumni, faculty, staff, parents and a current student who sponsored a total of 413 trees — numbers that exceeded our expectations. We gave our sponsors the opportunity to write personal messages to our first-year and transfer students to accompany their trees, and more than a few tears were shed in reading them at this year’s Traditions Dinner.

Our hope is that students will carry these encouraging notes with them and remember that they are now a part of this welcoming community of Scots.

We appreciate everyone who participated in the Traditions Tree project. If you’re hearing about this for the first time and wish to become involved yourself, please visit

Story published on January 11, 2023