Indiana State University Newsroom

Contemplative garden dedication caps two-year effort by psychology professor

October 31, 2013

Jean Kristeller was first drawn to contemplative gardens when she lived in Japan as an undergraduate student. The idea of peace, meditation, and connecting with oneself inspired the Indiana State University professor to arrange a contemplative garden on ISU's campus.

Kristeller, professor emeritus of psychology and co-founder of the Center for the Study of Health, Religion, and Spirituality, spoke at a small dedication ceremony in the Root Hall courtyard. Faculty and friends who helped contribute to the garden recognized Kristeller's two-year effort.

The garden is made up of thyme and elderberry plants with a stone walkway leading through the garden. There are benches where students and faculty can sit and enjoy the serene sounds of a small fountain. There are also stones in the garden with meditative sayings inscribed on them.

Stephanie Krull, landscape and grounds manager, teamed up with Kristeller to help bring her idea to life.

"Jean and I really hit it off and started dreaming big," Krull said.

The garden is not yet completely where Kristeller and Krull's vision want it to be. There are plans to fill it with various other plants along with gravel, and possibly expand it. Although it is not quite finished, it is still a quiet, meditative place where students can go.

"The garden can be a getaway from the daily chatter of our mind ... and a place where we can let go of stress," Kristeller said.

The Root Hall courtyard used to be a quiet undeveloped space surrounded by the building itself as well as river birch trees giving it an aspect of nature.

"I consider the space really perfect because it's both accessible and protected," Kristeller said.

Kristeller thanked many faculty members, and the ISU Foundation, who helped with the contribution of the garden. She coined John Murray, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, the "dean of this space."

"It's wonderful to have it here at ISU," Murray said. "This is both a place for quiet and contemplation. This is a space that I will come to. Even if I'm not in it, I'll see it."

A number of faculty and community members that Kristeller thanked for their contributions gave a short speech and read a spiritual quote of their own choosing.

"[I'm] so grateful for Jean for not only making [this space] more beautiful, but for adding a contemplative aspect to it," Leslie Barratt, chair of the department of languages, literatures and linguistics, said. Barratt quoted the Latin saying, "Carpe diem," stating that not everybody knows its true meaning which is "gather this moment.""When you pray you use your mind, when you meditate you use your heart," Chandra Reddy, Terre Haute oncologist, said. "Hopefully this project helps everyone to hope and give."Kristeller's husband, Dennis Evers, was the last person to speak at the event. He told the audience how he had not practiced meditation until Kristeller entered his life, and that through this practice, it has changed his life. He also said that he hopes everyone will use the space.

Photo: - Jean Kristeller (far left), professor emerita of psychology, speaks during the Oct. 25, 2013 dedication of a contemplative garden in the courtyard of Root Hall on the Indiana State University campus. (ISU/Rachel Keyes)

Contact: Jean Kristeller, professor emerita of psychology and co-founder, Center for the Study of Health, Religion, and Spirituality, Indiana State University,

Writer: Sadie All, media relations assistant, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-3773 or