Connecticut College names new arboretum director

New London — Connecticut College has announced Miles Schwartz Sax as the new director of its arboretum, a year after the retirement of 30-year director Glenn Dreyer.

Assistant director Maggie Redfern served as interim director for the past year, and Sax will begin Aug. 1.

He recently completed his doctorate in horticultural biology from Cornell University, following a master's degree in public garden leadership from Cornell and an undergraduate degree in environmental conservation studies from the University of New Hampshire.

Sax told The Day it had been his longtime goal to get back into working at botanical gardens, and that the arboretum job appealed to him due to his history of work in conservation and ecological land management.

He also was interested in working at a botanic garden at a college or university, both to leverage its resources and engage students.

Sax, 33, had never visited Connecticut College Arboretum before he visited for his interview. But he said he was struck by the arboretum's history of land conservation and stewardship, its 750-acre scale and how many people he interacted with across disciplines, not just in the natural sciences.

"Some universities or colleges don't value their landscapes, and being in a place where so many of the faculty were enthusiastic and excited and wanting to engage with the incoming director were all really good signs," Sax said.

The Amherst, Mass., native will be moving from Ithaca, N.Y., to New London with his fiancée in the next few weeks.

Sax said the two things he is particularly excited about with the position are the college's strong focus on sustainability and the arboretum's native plant collection.

"With expertise in public gardens and woody plants, as well as in conservation, Miles is uniquely qualified to lead the arboretum, and we're thrilled to welcome him to the college," Jeffrey Cole, dean of the faculty and professor of anthropology, said in a news story on the Conn College website.

Sax's previous experience includes work at The Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University, The Morton Arboretum in Illinois, and Stellenbosch University Botanical Garden in South Africa, where he was a visiting scholar.

Sax said of his new role, "I hope to just continue to build off the strengths that we already have, and develop new programs that will serve the broader community."

e.moser@theday.com

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