The mission of the William F. Curtis Arboretum is
to foster appreciation of the natural world through:
by maintaining, developing, and interpreting well-documented
plant collections from around the world that are hardy in the
Teaching and experiential learning, by providing
an outdoor laboratory for botany, horticulture, dendrology, and
to the living collections.
Community Education, by providing
publications and programs in conservation, dendrology, botany,
and natural history
of the natural world.
Recreation and Contemplation, by offering
a place where people from the College and the community may come
History of the Arboretum
When William F. Curtis, the seventh president
of Cedar Crest, purchased the present site of the college campus
in 1915, the landscape
offered little more than a bare expanse of corn stubble and a
single walnut tree. After the College moved to its present location,
Dr. Curtis transformed this stark 84-acre campus by planting
a variety of flowers, shrubs, and trees from all over the world,
many of which he obtained in lieu of fees for his public speaking
Dr. Curtis often compared the growth of the college’s
trees to the growth of its students, and devoted his life to
promoting both, saying that they both needed careful cultivation
and nurturing. Through his generous efforts and those of his
successors, alumnae, student groups and friends of the college,
the arboretum became a testimony to the world’s biodiversity.
With trees representing most of the continents, the 140-plus
species speak for the international flavor of the college.
August 11, 1983, a violent thunderstorm destroyed the original
walnut tree which symbolized for so many the transformation
of the college campus. Its loss provided the impetus to develop
the campus tree collection, and on September 21, 1985, the
was officially named the William F. Curtis Arboretum and registered
with the American Association of Botanical Gardens and Arboreta
(now the American Public Gardens Association).