Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania is a historic public garden and educational institution. It promotes an understanding of the relationship between plants, people and place through programs that integrate science, art and the humanities.
Paul Meyer, the F. Otto Haas Executive Director of Penn’s Morris Arboretum, is celebrating his landmark 40th year at the institution. Under his tenure, the Arboretum has grown from a small regional attraction to an award-winning botanic garden of national and international importance.
Meyer’s love of plants began in the suburbs of Cincinnati, where he grew up tending his parents’ and grandparents’ gardens and fruit trees. He studied horticulture at Ohio State University and went on to continue his education overseas at gardens in England and Germany. After his return to the states, he entered the University of Delaware’s Longwood Graduate Program.
Meyer arrived at Morris Arboretum in 1976 with a grand plan to work there for a couple of years before moving on to a more prestigious institution. But instead of leaving, Meyer worked to bring the prestige to the institution he had grown to love. After 15 years as curator, and later, director of horticulture, Meyer took the reins as the F. Otto Haas Director in 1990.
Since then, he has worked to continually improve the gardens while increasing the number of annual visitors through innovative ideas like the popular Garden Railway. Key to Meyer’s success was his ability to attract partners willing to support the Arboretum’s exhibits, research activities, maintenance costs, special events and educational programs. Successful draws like the Out on a Limb, A Tree Adventure Exhibit, as well as other critical programs that support the Arboretum’s mission of education, research, and horticultural display are made possible through the generosity of donors.
Thanks in part to Meyer’s leadership, the Morris Arboretum is now a world class educational institution that attracts some 130,000 visitors per year. It is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, is recognized as the official arboretum of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and is an interdisciplinary resource center at the University of Pennsylvania.