e s f home link - e s f college of environmental science and forestry
e s f home link - e s f college of environmental science and forestry

ESF Dendrologist Honored by SUNY


SYRACUSE, N.Y. - A dendrologist who discovered a 450-year-old pine tree in Madison County has been named a Distinguished Teaching Professor by the SUNY Board of Trustees.

The honor goes to Dr. Donald J. Leopold of Syracuse, a professor at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF).

Leopold has been a member of the ESF Faculty of Environmental and Forest Biology for more than 12 years. He teaches dendrology, freshwater wetland ecosystems, and Adirondack ecosystems.

photo of Dr. Donald J. LeopoldThe nomination document submitted by the college describes Leopold as "a splendid teacher, student mentor and learning facilitator of the highest caliber."

He was leading a group of students through the state's Nelson Swamp Unique Area in Madison County last year and came across an eastern white pine tree estimated to be 450 years old, making it the oldest living tree of its species on record. Researchers believe it might be the oldest tree growing in Central New York.

Leopold's research focuses on forest and wetland ecology. In the last five years, he has worked on research grants totaling almost $1 million.

One of his current projects is the creation of a forest arboretum and environmental interpretive center in Camillus. Leopold and two other ESF faculty members prepared a vision statement for the arboretum, which would be at the site of the former Syracuse State Developmental Center, near Nine Mile Creek and the Erie Canal. The state Department of Environmental Conservation is preparing a plan for the site, which will be reviewed by the public.

Leopold earned his bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Kentucky and his doctorate in forest ecology from Purdue University. He joined the ESF faculty in 1985.

He is the co-author of the recently published Trees of the Central Hardwood Forest: An Identification and Cultivation Guide and has written chapters in five other books. He has published more than 30 articles in scholarly journals and technical publications.

The Distinguished Teaching Professorship is a prestigious tenured rank above that of full professor. Faculty members who receive the title are expected to devote a considerable portion of their time to curricular reform and to the improvement of instruction on their home campus. They are also expected to devote up to one full week each academic year in service to the university on campuses other than their own.