Richard Hale Goodwin (1910-2007) was a renowned botanist, two-time president of the Nature Conservancy, and a dedicated land conservationist. He served as the head of the botany program at Connecticut College as well as Director of the Connecticut College Arboretum for thirty-two years expanding the Arboretum and developing one of the first environmental studies programs in the country.
Richard Goodwin was born in 1910 in Brookline, Massachusetts. He received his undergraduate and graduate degrees from Harvard University in Biology. He traveled to East Africa collecting specimens with his wife, Ester Bremis, before moving their new family to Denmark to spend a year studying plant hormones as the American-Scandinavian Research Fellow at the University of Copenhagen. On his return, he began teaching at the University of Rochester in 1938 where he spent six years as a professor of biology, maintaining the herbarium, and helping to preserve Bergen Swamp.
Richard Goodwin came to Connecticut College in 1944 as the head of the Botany department and Director of the Arboretum. His research focused on experimental plant morphology; however, he is best remembered for his work on land conservation. Under Goodwin, the Arboretum expanded from 90 acres to more than 400 acres at his retirement in 1976. He preserved 200 of those acres as natural areas in what is known as Bolleswood Natural Area (1952) and Mamacoke Natural area (1955). These natural areas serve as part of the long term vegetation studies conducted by the botany department that continue to this day. While at Connecticut College, he also developed one of the first environmental studies programs in the country known as Human Ecology in 1969. This program brought together the study of science and public policy. He headed this interdepartmental major from 1969-1976.
Goodwin served in prominent positions on several national boards and foundations. He was the Connecticut representative on the founding board of The Nature Conservancy in 1951 and served twice as the president from 1956 to 1958 and again from 1964 to 1966. He was the founding trustee and president of the Conservation and Research Foundation, founded in 1953. With the Connecticut Conservation Association, he helped create legislation to preserve wetlands and prevent dredging of coastal lands. He advocated for selective use of herbicides on Connecticut roadways in Right-of-Way Vegetation Management Committee. He helped several small conservation organizations preserve land and natural areas.
Goodwin received many awards honoring his work including The Connecticut College Medal (1984), Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection Special award for contributions in conservation and teaching (1990), The Environmental Protection Agency Northeast Region Merit Award as a citizen activist (1990), and The Wildlife Conservation Medal in (2002) from the Zoological Society of San Diego.