New Arboretum Director Named

February 15, 2013 - News Release

A new director has been appointed to the University of Guelph Arboretum. The largest and most comprehensive sanctuary of its kind in Ontario, it is home to more than 18,000 specimens in more than 30 plant collections as well as gardens, wetlands, nature trails and forests.

Prof. Shelley Hunt

Prof. Shelley Hunt, a forest ecologist and faculty member in the School of Environmental Sciences (SES), has been named director of the Arboretum, effective Feb. 11. Prof. Jonathan Newman, director of SES, has served as interim director since Prof. Alan Watson stepped down from the position in 2012 after more than 20 years at the Arboretum.

Hunt completed her B.Sc. and PhD at Guelph. She highlights that the 165-hectare green space was one of her favourite places to visit on campus while a student at the University.

“When I was living in East Residence as an undergraduate student, the Arboretum was our backyard, the go-to place for walking, running and occasional late-night cross-country skiing,” she says. “It was also wonderful to have a place on campus to hone my tree identification skills. Since becoming a faculty member, I've visited the Arboretum regularly when I need a break from my desk and some inspiration.”

Hunt has used the sanctuary as a field site for undergraduate research projects and led classes on walk-and-talks through the space to reinforce lecture concepts.

Each year more than 73,000 people visit the Arboretum, and more than 6,000 people participate in workshops, guided tours and special events.

“The Arboretum offers a combination of plant collections and natural areas such as woodlands and meadow,” says Hunt. “It provides opportunities for teaching and research and extensive outreach to the broader community, with dedicated volunteers from on and off campus. This is important green space on campus and part of the City of Guelph's natural heritage system.”

Hunt will continue to teach and conduct research at the University, where she has been on faculty since 2006. Her research currently focuses on forest restoration in southern Ontario.

The chance to work with the Arboretum team convinced her that this was the right opportunity.

“I am thrilled to make a contribution to the great work being done by the Arboretum in fulfilling the mandate of promoting education, research and teaching,” says Hunt. “My first steps as director will be listening to and learning from the staff, visitors and the community. I hope to increase awareness on campus of the wonderful work being done at the Arboretum in biodiversity conservation and environmental education, and to strengthen its role as a research hub.”

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, 519-824-4120, Ext. 53338, or; or Kevin Gonsalves, Ext. 56982, or

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