Morris Arboretum’s Executive Director, Paul W. Meyer, Wins Prestigious National Award

Paul W. Meyer, the F. Otto Haas Executive Director of the Morris Arboretum, received the prestigious Liberty Hyde Bailey Award from the American Horticultural Society (AHS) at its June 5th Great American Gardeners Awards Ceremony at River Farm in Alexandria, Virginia.  AHS presents the Liberty Hyde Bailey Award to an individual who has made significant lifetime contributions to a least three of the following horticultural fields: teaching, research, communications, plant exploration, administration, art, business, and leadership. 

“There is little doubt that Liberty Hyde Bailey was the most important proponent of Horticulture in America during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It is more than fitting that this award goes to Paul Meyer for his achievements in administration, communication, institution-building and plant introduction.  His career has epitomized the breadth and magnitude of accomplishment for which this award was created.  Throughout his career Paul has never sought personal acclaim for his accomplishments, but has exerted servant leadership as primus inter pars - first among equals.  By embodying that rare quality of close identification with the institution he has served for almost four decades, Paul has created something more lasting and more positively effective than any personal fame.  I am pleased to have known him over his entire career, and to be able to say that this man is my friend,” said Dick Lighty about Meyer’s award. Lighty himself was a recipient of the award in 1999.

“This recognition would not be possible without the help of a dedicated Board, hardworking staff and volunteers, and all of the Arboretum’s generous supporters. “Meyer was quick to add when congratulated for this prestigious award. “This is an affirmation of the national and international impact of the Morris Arboretum”, he continued.

Paul W. Meyer has been the F. Otto Haas Executive Director of the Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania since 1991. Meyer came to the Arboretum as curator of the living collection in 1976, and has played a significant role in its transformation from a dilapidated lesser-known former private estate into a world-class public garden that welcomes approximately 130,000 visitors each year.

The Morris Arboretum is also a research and educational institution that maintains a database of Flora of Pennsylvania and participates in international plant exploration expeditions. Meyer helped found the NACPEC (North America-China Plant Exploration Consortium) in 1991 and has traveled extensively to China and other parts of the world in search of new plants to evaluate for introduction to American gardens. Through the NACPEC, the Morris Arboretum and other prominent participating North American public gardens have developed a strong relationship with Chinese botanical gardens to share information aimed at improving plant conservation efforts and widening the generic pool of species commonly used in horticultural breeding programs.

Just as the Morris Arboretum has become more widely recognized in recent years, Paul Meyer is not just Philadelphia’s secret. With this award and many others from horticultural organizations, he is clearly recognized for his achievements, and well respected among his peers nationally.

Katy Moss Warner, President Emeritus of the American Horticultural Society and currently Vice President and City Judge, America in Bloom commented that, “ Paul speaks often about "standing on the shoulders of giants" in order to have experienced and achieved what he has in this world. He is certainly passing it on. His tall shoulders have inspired many in America and around the world.

The American Horticultural Society couldn't be prouder as we recognize Paul Meyer as the 2014 Liberty Hyde Bailey award winner and add him to the list of those we consider the finest and most influential horticulturists in America.”

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