OXFORD, Miss. – The man in charge of efforts to make the University of Mississippi the Most Beautiful Campus in the country and keep it that way is set to receive a very high honor from his alma mater.
Jeff McManus, UM director of landscape, airport and golf operations, has been named the Auburn University Department of Horticulture’s outstanding alumnus for 2016. The 1988 Auburn graduate will be honored in a ceremony Feb. 3 at the Auburn Alumni Center.
McManus has been the mastermind of keeping Ole Miss’ campus, more than 1,500 acres, looking gorgeous. Those beautification efforts have been nationally recognized four times during McManus’ tenure, including being named Most Beautiful Campus by the Princeton Review, Professional Grounds Management Society and Newsweek.
“I am humbled by the honor and wish to share it with all those I work with here at Ole Miss,” McManus said. “Excellence is always a team effort, and I have been blessed with a supportive and talented team of co-workers and administrators.”
UM Chancellor Emeritus Robert Khayat hired McManus 16 years ago, following a national search to find the best landscape manager in the business to help turn UM into a 5-star property. He found McManus, who had made a name for himself after his work leading landscape efforts at two large resorts in Florida: Grand Cypress Resort in Orlando and Turnberry Isle Resort and Club in North Miami.
Khayat has said that McManus “changed the landscape culture and the general culture in the local community of Oxford, Mississippi, in a very positive way.”
Besides maintaining the beauty of Ole Miss, McManus also does training on leadership development and has written two books, “Prune Like a Pro” and his upcoming “Growing Landscape Weeders to Leaders.”
Harry Ponder, Auburn’s Shumack Professor of Horticulture, who taught McManus, nominated him for the award. Ponder said Ole Miss is “one of the best landscaped public properties in the country” thanks to McManus’ work.
“Jeff McManus is simply one of the very best landscape managers in the country, and the University of Mississippi campus screams that to everyone who visits,” Ponder said. “He is a nationally recognized leader in the field of landscape management and leadership training.
“Jeff has always represented the Department of Horticulture, the College of Agriculture and Auburn University with a dignity and grace that makes us all proud of our university.”