Morris Arboretum names William Cullina as executive director

William Cullina has been named the F. Otto Haas Executive Director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Morris Arboretum. He will assume the new job July 8, succeeding Paul W. Meyer, who served the Arboretum for 43 years, 28 years as executive director.  

Cullina has extensive experience in public garden leadership, fundraising, education, and horticulture, and is a well-known author and lecturer. 

William Cullina
William Cullina

“We have found a well-respected leader from the garden world with a proven record of success,” said Ellen Hass, chair of the Arboretum’s Board of Advisors and chair of the search committee. “He is an ideal choice to lead the Morris Arboretum in its next phase of growth.”

Since 2011, Cullina has been the president and chief executive officer of the Coastal Maine Botanical Garden, in Boothbay. During his tenure, he led the development of a comprehensive 20-year master plan and launched a $50-million capital campaign to develop the plan’s first phase. He oversaw completion of a new $4.2 million net-zero energy LEED platinum Education Center. Both annual attendance and membership grew substantially. 

Previously, Cullina was the nursery director and head propagator at the New England Wildflower Society in Massachusetts. He is a recognized authority on North American native plants and lectures on a variety of subjects to garden and professional groups, and he writes for popular and technical journals. 

His books include “Wildflowers”; “Native Trees, Shrubs, and Vines”; “Understanding Orchids”; “Native Ferns, Mosses, and Grasses”; and “Understanding Perennials”, and he co-authored “Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens: A People’s Garden.” Cullina has won several awards, including an Award of Excellence for advancing the goals of the National Garden Clubs of America.

He assumes the role of executive director during a time of growth at the Morris Arboretum. The current Ever Green fundraising campaign, which concludes in 2021, will generate resources for further investment in the gardens, research efforts, and education offerings. 

Marie Witt, vice president of business services at Penn, describes Cullina as “a highly capable public garden professional with deep experience in research, education, and community outreach. He will be a welcome addition to the Arboretum and to Penn.” 

Cullina said he is “thrilled and honored” to be joining the Morris Arboretum. “It is truly a once-in-a- lifetime opportunity, and I am deeply grateful to the Board and University for selecting me as the next leader of this great institution,” he said. “I cannot wait to get started."