The Arboretum Committee

To ensure the continued health and longevity of the Arboretum and campus tree canopy as a whole, the Campus Arboretum Committee, a subcommittee of the Campus Master Planning Committee, provides guidance and oversight for decisions affecting the tree population at Vassar.

The Tree Care Group, comprising several Arboretum Committee members, is responsible for making decisions on the proposed removal of trees.

Since it is capable of more or less continuously producing new branches, leaves, and roots, a tree should be able to live forever. Trees such as the bristlecone pine, giant sequoia, and coast redwood are among the oldest living things. Most of our campus trees do indeed have very long lives, so we naturally tend to regard them as permanent. We find that perceived permanence comforting, and when a tree comes down we experience a disconcerting sense of sadness and loss.

Because our campus trees have such high ecological, emotional, and esthetic importance, it is the policy of the Arboretum Committee that a tree can be removed only if it has become a clear safety hazard, or it is too diseased or damaged to survive. Even then, the decision is not taken lightly. Removing a tree requires consensus among the members of the Tree Care Group listed below. If safety and esthetic considerations allow, a portion of the tree is retained as a snag, which provides wildlife habitat and allows the natural process of decay to occur.  The removal guidelines also call for replacement of each tree that is removed.

If you have concerns about the removal of a tree, or you’re worried that a tree has become a safety hazard, or you would like to suggest an addition to the Arboretum, please contact the following team at sustainability@vassar.edu:

  • Jen Rubbo: Director of the Environmental Cooperative at the Vassar Barns, Faculty Co-chair of ArbCom, Member of tree decider group
  • Yvonne Elet: Associate Professor of the History of Art and Architecture, Faculty Co-chair of ArbCom, Member of tree decider group
  • Margaret Ronsheim: Chair and Professor of Biology, Member of tree decider group
  • Keri VanCamp: Director of the Preserve at Vassar, Member of tree decider group
  • Dean Jaeger: Grounds Manager, Member of tree decider group

ArbCom Members 2022-23

Membership is open to those with an interest and willingness to participate.

The Tree Care Group makes decisions on maintenance, removal and replacement of campus trees.

Yvonne Elet: Associate Professor of the History of Art and Architecture, Faculty Co-chair of ArbCom, Member of tree decider group

yvelet@vassar.edu
Jen Rubbo: Director of the Environmental Cooperative at the Vassar Barns, Faculty Co-chair of ArbCom, Member of tree decider group

jerubbo@vassar.edu
Dean Jaeger: Grounds Manager, Member of tree decider group
djaeger@vassar.edu
Margaret Ronsheim: Chair and Professor of Biology, Member of tree decider group
maronsheim@vassar.edu
Keri VanCamp: Director of the Preserve at Vassar, Member of tree decider group
kevancamp@vassar.edu
Leslie Dunn: Professor of English
dunn@vassar.edu
Tahirih Motazedian: Assistant Professor of Music
tmotazedian@vassar.edu
Katie Gemmill: Assistant Professor of English
kgemmill@vassar.edu
Myra Hughey: Assistant Professor of Biology
myhughey@vassar.edu
Andrew Ashton: Director of the Libraries
anashton@vassar.edu
Dennis Macheska: Associate Dean of the College for Campus Activities
dmacheska@vassar.edu
Tobias Devor: Office Specialist, Volunteer & Reunion Programs
tdevor@vassar.edu
Clay Antonatos ‘22: Administrative Fellow for the Environmental Cooperative, Office of Sustainability, and Preserve at Vassar
kantonatos@vassar.edu
Ada King ‘23aking@vassar.edu
Sophie Wanzer ‘23swanzer@vassar.edu
Madeleine Freundlich ‘24mfreundlich@vassar.edu
Nathan Strope ‘24nstrope@vassar.edu
Hunter Grogan ‘24hgrogan@vassar.edu
Zoe Thompson ‘26zthompson@vassar.edu