The arboretum's beginnings stretch back to 1831, when the campus property was purchased. The college itself was founded two years later. In 1834 William Carvill laid out the campus in a style influenced by noted landscape architect Sir Humphry Repton. In 1928 the college minutes record that "a comprehensive planting of trees" was discussed, and in response the Superintendent of Grounds began a scientific collection of trees arranged in generic and family groupings. The college's arboretum association was founded in 1974.
As of 2006 the college's arboretum contains mature oaks and maples, specimen trees, flowering trees, and natural woodland areas. Over 1,500 trees are labeled with their scientific name, common name and nativity. Specific points of interest include:
Ryan Pinetum - Over 300 mature conifers, labeled and arranged by family groupings.
State champion trees - Loblolly Pine, Pinus taeda; and Hinoki False Cypress, Chamaecyparis obtusa.