The John R. Rodman Arboretum

The John R. Rodman Arboretum began informally in 1984 as a movement to save surviving indigenous vegetation from demolition by well-meaning academic developers. The movement was begun by Dr. John R. Rodman, Professor of Environmental Studies, other faculty, staff and students.

The roots of the Arboretum, however, reach back to the culture of environmental awareness and concern that began in the 1960’s and flourished in the 1970’s when Pitzer’s Environmental Studies program was established. The operating commonality among the Arboretum gardens, spread throughout the campus, is that drought-tolerant and native landscaping can produce not only a beautiful and welcoming, but environmentally responsible setting for a college located in the San Gabriel alluvial scrub country of Southern California.

Since 1988 the Arboretum has been an official part of the college, while retaining much of its participatory character and relying heavily on volunteer contributions from within and outside the college to fund its work projects, notably students and faculty in Environmental Studies courses and, since 2001, by Joe Clements, Arboretum Manager, who retired in summer 2015.

Dr. Rodman wrote in 1998: “It’s difficult to sum up the Arboretum in a phrase… Perhaps the core is a search for a third way between the two traditional American paths: the exploitation of nature and the worship of a sacred, untouchable nature … a search for patterns of interaction that are beneficial to both nature and people, patterns of stewardship and restoration that take us beyond ‘social responsibility’ to ‘ecological responsibility.’”

Supporting the Arboretum

John R. Rodman
John R. Rodman in the late 1980s

“Without John Rodman, there would be no Pitzer College Arboretum.” This sentiment is a truism at Pitzer: Professor Rodman’s passion is as deeply rooted in the Arboretum as the plants themselves. Pitzer has established the John R. Rodman Arboretum Endowment Fund to ensure the Arboretum’s future as an educational resource.

The Rodman Arboretum has been a labor of love since its inception, created through the generous efforts of countless faculty, students, alumni, staff and friends.

To contribute to the John R. Rodman Arboretum Endowment Fund, please contact the Pitzer Office of College Advancement at (909) 621-8130 email, [email protected]