Bach and tree planting event set for April 26; Hastings College named Tree Campus

The sounds of Bach will echo across the Hastings College campus on Friday, April 26, as piano professor Dr. Jonathan Sokasits plays a harpsichord while students and employees plant a tree in honor of the late Dr. Elinore Barber, an emeritus professor of music who had an especially fond appreciation of Johann Sebastian Bach’s music.

The Arbor Day event will begin with a brief worship service at 9:00 a.m. outside the Fuhr Hall of Music (927 N. Ash Avenue) on campus, with the tree planting to follow at 9:30 a.m.

Barber, who died in 2013, studied Bach’s music in the early 1950’s with Nobel Peace Prize winner Dr. Albert Schweitzer. The two were long-time personal friends, and Schweitzer’s missionary medical center in West Africa benefited greatly from fundraising and volunteer efforts of church groups in Hastings thanks to the efforts of Barber.

TreeCampus HigherEd LogoBarber began teaching at Hastings College in 1944, where she was a member of the music faculty until 1969, when she became a music professor at Baldwin Wallace College in Berea, Ohio, until her retirement in 1984. At Baldwin, Barber founded The Riemenschneider Bach Institute and was editor of the Bach Journal published by the institute.

She returned to Hastings in 1998 and became the Hastings College historian and archivist. She founded and was the editor of Rerum Scriptor, a biannual publication of historical information about the College, and was inducted into the Pro Rege Society in 2001.

The tree planting is just one of many opportunities throughout the year for students and employees to volunteer time to improve the Hastings College Arboretum and campus as a whole.

Student service-learning projects like this are just one aspect of Hastings College being named a 2023 Tree Campus Higher Education by the Arbor Day Foundation, an honor the College has held for many years.

The Arbor Day Foundation’s Tree Campus Higher Education program encourages colleges and universities to plant trees on campus. Trees provide shade, cleaner air and water, and green spaces for students and employees. In addition, trees improve students’ mental and cognitive health, provide an appealing aesthetic for campuses and create shaded areas for studying and gathering.

“Trees not only play a vital role in the environment but also in our daily lives,” said Dan Lambe, chief executive of the Arbor Day Foundation. “Having trees on college and university campuses is a great way to show a commitment to students and faculty’s overall wellbeing.”

The Tree Campus Higher Education program honors colleges and universities for effective campus forest management and engaging staff and students in conservation goals.

Hastings College achieved the distinction by meeting Tree Campus Higher Education’s five standards, including maintaining a tree advisory committee, a campus tree-care plan, dedicated annual expenditures for its campus tree program, an Arbor Day observance and student service-learning project. Currently, there are 411 campuses across the United States with this recognition. More information about the program is available at

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