The Debra Ann November Research Greenhouse—a generous gift from Mort and Iris November in memory of Mr. November's daughter Debra Ann (1953-1977)—will expand opportunities for Case Western Reserve University researchers, students and community programs for biology teachers and classes to use the university's Squirevallee Farm on Fairmount Boulevard in Hunting Valley as a place to study nature.
The new energy-efficient and "green" greenhouse facilities is being dedicated on June 4 at 11:30 a.m. During that time, the November family will view the new educational building, which is the first major gift designated for improvements at Case's 389-acre property. The family's gift also reflects Debra Ann's deep love for children—and with the greenhouse's setting in the pastoral and wooded hills of the Chagrin River Valley, her summers spent as a camp counselor.
The November Research Greenhouse is a continuing example of Mort and Iris November's philanthropic work that honors Debra Ann.
"What stands out in my memory of my daughter is that she loved children. She would have been a good mother," said Mr. November.
A Cleveland public school graduate who went on to become a leader in the insurance industry, Mr. November received the Outstanding Philanthropic Award from The Association of Fundraising Professional Greater Cleveland Chapter during 2005 National Philanthropy Day. During that time, he was honored for his cumulative philanthropic initiatives—many named in honor of his daughter and among which are a field trip program for classes in the Cleveland schools, a Cuyahoga Valley Environmental Education Center, the East Cleveland Library Learning Center, a library for the Center for Families and Children and a playroom at the Jewish Community Center and a new autism center at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, due to open in the fall.
Mr. November said the gift of the greenhouse also honors Mrs. November, a Flora Stone Mather alumna and an avid supporter of the Farm education programs in keeping with the tradition of the Flora Stone Mather College students.
The greenhouse project also brings back special memories for Mr. November, who grew up in his family's floral business, the November Avenue Floral Shop near Euclid and East 55th Street in Cleveland. "I always dreamt of having my own floral business," said Mr. November, who recalls helping his family in their business from sweeping floors to making special floral designs.
The new horticulture facilities at the farm replace an aging 47-year-old "glass" greenhouse that had poor energy efficiency and foundation problems with a new state-of-the-art facility. The new greenhouse was funded with a $200,000 gift from the November family and $25,000 from the Farm operating budget.
Demolished last December, the site was cleared to make way for the new greenhouse constructed with walls of an 8 mm polymer with a high "R" value that has the capacity to contain three times greater amounts of heat than the old glass structure; an insulated foundation; individual room temperature control in six new classrooms and a rain-water harvesting system for watering plants in experiments or for farm landscaping. During construction, the old foundation material was recycled and used as the working project's driveway. Other recycled material included ventilation fans and lighting system.
According to farm manager and biologist Ana Locci, the research greenhouse is approximately four feet longer and three feet wider with six new research lab/classrooms than the old structure with its three interconnected rooms. Each room now has its own access via a catwalk.
"It is a great addition for research since now there will be more rooms that are isolated from each other, have their own control temperature and drainage systems to prevent cross contamination," said Locci.
The Debra Ann November Research Greenhouse will be primarily used by Paul Drewa, Locci, Andrew Swanson and Mark Willis—all faculty members in biology department in the College of Arts and Sciences.
Approximately 40 students each week use the farm as their classroom. This includes courses on ecology and aquatic biology as well as a joint Case and Cleveland Institute of Art course that incorporates a cross disciplinary examination of art and nature.
"Thanks to the generosity of Mort and Iris November, we have a new facility to host outreach activities, classes for Case students and research," said Joseph Koonce, chair of the biology department.
He added, "The greenhouse remodeling and updates to the Biology Field Station are allowing the department of biology to improve the capacity of teaching and research facilities at the University Farm."
The modular layout of the greenhouse will allow researchers to manipulate the growing conditions for plants and vary temperature, moisture, gas composition, nutrients and contaminants.
Facilities at the farm are also used by the Summer Ecology Program, designed for middle school teachers to learn more about biology, and the School Visitation Program, jointly run by the biology department and Case's Center for the Science and Mathematics Education.
For additional information about Case's University Farms, visit http://www.case.edu/farm/.