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Old Dominion University has received a $1 million gift and a nearly 1,000-plant collection of orchids to be housed on campus in a new greenhouse and conservatory, President Roseann Runte announced.

Retired businessman Leonard Kaplan and his wife, Tobee, of Greensboro, N.C., donated $1 million for the construction of a greenhouse/conservatory. Dr. Arthur S. Kaplan, a retired Norfolk physician, and his wife, Phyllis, donated the prolific orchid collection and a monetary contribution for an endowment for the care and maintainance of the greenhouse.

"There are always special spots on campuses where students go at special moments -- when their parents come to visit or when they pledge their eternal love," Runte said. "This greenhouse will be one of those places at Old Dominion. We thank the Kaplans for sharing a most wonderful gift with the university and the community as a whole."

The greenhouse and conservatory will be named for Arthur and Phyllis Kaplan and officials expect it to open next summer on the grassy area behind the Chemistry Building near Webb University Center. It will feature a conservatory for public display of plants and flowers, a growing area and research laboratories.

The greenhouse and plant collection are a natural extension of the university's botany legacy and recent endeavors, according to Lytton Musselman, Mary Payne Hogan professor of botany and chair of the Department of Biological Sciences. He noted that one of the first courses offered at Old Dominion in 1930 was botany and the university in more recent years has opened the Blackwater Ecologic Preserve, created two endowed chairs in botany and established a partnership with the Norfolk Botanical Gardens.

This article was posted on: September 22, 2005

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