Chief Arborist

Pennsylvania, United States
23 Jun 2020
End of advertisement period
23 Aug 2020
Contract Type
Full Time

University Overview

The University of Pennsylvania, the largest private employer in Philadelphia, is a world-renowned leader in education, research, and innovation. This historic, Ivy League school consistently ranks among the top 10 universities in the annual U.S. News & World Report survey. Penn has 12 highly-regarded schools that provide opportunities for undergraduate, graduate and continuing education, all influenced by Penn’s distinctive interdisciplinary approach to scholarship and learning.

Penn offers a unique working environment within the city of Philadelphia. The University is situated on a beautiful urban campus, with easy access to a range of educational, cultural, and recreational activities. With its historical significance and landmarks, lively cultural offerings, and wide variety of atmospheres, Philadelphia is the perfect place to call home for work and play.

The University offers a competitive benefits package that includes excellent healthcare and tuition benefits for employees and their families, generous retirement benefits, a wide variety of professional development opportunities, supportive work and family benefits, a wealth of health and wellness programs and resources, and much more.

Job Description Summary

The Morris Arboretum enjoys the rare distinction of being one of less than 20 U.S. arboreta and botanical gardens that has met the rigorous accreditation standards of the American Alliance of Museums. Furthermore, the Morris Arboretum is on the National Register of Historic Places and is proud of its designation as The Official Arboretum of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The Arboretum's actively curated collection of trees and plants numbers over 12,000. In addition, the Arboretum boasts a nationally recognized herbarium of over 40,000 specimens. As a key member of the Morris Arboretum team, this position will contribute to the mission of this world class organization.

The Business Services Division (BSD) supports the individual and collective needs of the Penn community by promoting a hospitable, customer-friendly campus environment through the provision of mission-critical services and essential operations. BSD’s mission is to provide high-quality service in a fiscally responsible manner. The Division is currently focused on three major initiatives: Revenue growth/retention through improved marketing efforts, extended services, and development of new distribution channels; driving productivity for the Division and its customers through the better use of technology, and enhancing service offerings through upgrades and expansions of facilities.

Job Description

The Chief Arborist is responsible for maintaining the health of trees in the Arboretum's living collections with particular emphasis on mature trees.  The Chief Arborist is responsible for developing, implementing, and supervising all aspects of arboricultural work in the Arboretum's living collections.  He/she is responsible for maintaining specified standards of presentation which meet established institutional priorities.  He/she must be able to perform physically demanding tasks.  The Chief Arborist is the primary advocate for arboricultural programs in the Arboretum and plays an active role in staff and budget allocations for this area.  Contributes to the outreach arboriculture consulting program and the continuing education program.  Reports directly to the Director of Horticulture.


  • Maintain the health of trees in the Arboretum's living collections, especially mature trees.  Duties include: pruning, fertilizing, irrigating, and regular inspection of plants for structural, cultural or pest-related problems using accepted IPM principles.
  • Climb and prune trees using established safety procedures and latest tree pruning techniques.
  • Develop and review strategies for managing important trees in the Arboretum's living collection.  Prepare and supervise daily and weekly work schedules.  Prepare plans for the pruning and removal of trees as required.
  • Cooperate with plant records staff in maintaining appropriate curatorial standards including accessioning, deaccessioning, IPM monitoring, and tree maintenance records.
  • Supervise the Assistant Arborist to accomplish the goals of the Arborist Section.  Recruit, instruct, and supervise Walter Root Arborist Intern as well as volunteers and seasonal staff to accomplish the goals of the Arborist Section.  Duties include:  interview and selection, scheduling of daily tasks, teaching arboricultural techniques, teaching safe operation of equipment, counseling and evaluation.
  • Climb and remove trees; install cables and lightning protection devices when necessary.
  • Operate chain saws, brush chipper, log splitter, backhoe, and other special equipment.  In addition, perform light maintenance on equipment, including sharpening of saws and cleaning of vehicles.
  • Teach courses in the Arboretum's Education Department for amateurs and professionals.  Participate as an instructor in training programs for interns.  Publish articles and lecture on topics related to arboriculture to both the general public and professional audiences.
  • Contribute to Arboretum’s revenue generation by working with outreach arborists on a variety of projects.
  • Participate in the Arboretum's special events, such spring members’ event, department special project days, etc.
  • Perform other duties as assigned.


An Associate's degree in horticulture or related plant science field, bachelor's degree highly desirable, or an equivalent combination of education and experience.  A minimum of five years of climbing experience is required.  Familiarity with arborist equipment is necessary. Organizational skills are essential.  Proven teaching skills are essential and writing experience is highly desirable.  Applicant must have a valid driver's license, arborist certification, and a Pennsylvania commercial pesticide applicators certification.

Physical Requirements:

Typically standing or walking, bending, crouching, stooping; frequent lifting 25 lbs. or more; occasionally lifting 25-50 lbs.; climbing ladders / scaffolds; using tools requiring high dexterity; requires protective devices.

Working Conditions:

Exposure to chemicals; outdoor exposure to weather; high noise environment; high dust, dirt, grease environment; requires extensive safety training & protective devices; exposure to moving machinery.

Job Location - City, State

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Department / School

Morris Arboretum

Affirmative Action Statement

Penn adheres to a policy that prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, creed, national or ethnic origin, citizenship status, age, disability, veteran status, or any other legally protected class.

Special Requirements

Background check required after a conditional job offer is made. Consideration of the background check will be tailored to the requirements of the job.

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