Message from the Interim Director

With state support to the UW diminishing, these past months have been a daunting challenge; we know that more budget cuts are coming our way. These cuts may involve adjustments that will change dramatically the way in which SFR carries out its mission and charts a vision for the future, with a focus on more efficient and productive ways to operate and use resources.  In the face of these challenges, I’m thankful for our legacy of strategic planning, attentiveness to new directions in the professions and disciplines we embrace, and our flexibility to change in order to reach innovative goals. These qualities are good indicators, I think, of why our School continues to hold a place in the top ranks of forestry research and education.  We are also well aware of  the importance of engaging our UW and state stakeholders as we weigh options.

The enduring commitment to excellence of our faculty, students, staff, alumni, and friends, as well as their generous support for our programs, are also indicators of our strength.  And it is to all of you, that, in spite of my opening words of budgetary woe, I pass along some very good news.

  • Our thirteen outstanding new faculty members, hired over the last three and half years, are making impressive contributions to SFR’s research and education programs.  We celebrate their diligent and creative pursuit of grant funding and their fresh initiatives in our undergraduate curricula and graduate programs.  We congratulate Josh Lawler, who this fall was promoted to Associate Professor with tenure.
  • Our students continue to be extraordinary!  We congratulate our two ARCS awardees Diana Pietri and Laurel Peelle (funded through the UW Graduate School by the Seattle Chapter of the Achievement Rewards for College Scientists' Foundation). These prestigious awards help the UW recruit graduate students with outstanding academic records and whose research will open pathways to scientific discoveries benefitting our state, our nation, and our world.  We also congratulate Jason Scullion, now in his first year of SFR’s PhD program, whose master’s thesis received the UW’s Distinguished Master’s Thesis Award.
  • SFR’s enrollment figures for Autumn Quarter 2010 continued an upward trend.  Undergraduate enrollment at 273 is up 2.6% from 2009 and is at the highest level since 1999.  Graduate enrollment at 186 is up 3.3% from 2009 and is at the highest level since 2003. We have an excellent chance of reaching our strategic planning benchmark of 300 undergraduates and 200 graduate students by 2011!
  • Our PhD programs were recently rated among the top three forestry PhD programs in the country in an assessment by the National Research Council. The Council evaluated 5,000 doctoral programs from 212 universities nationwide. We were among the 15 of the UW’s graduate programs that  were “highly rated.”
  •  The Northwest Environmental Forum convened an important two-day session in October.  Entitled, "Changing the Game: We Need Transformative Strategies to Stop Forest Losses," the session was attended by 67 participants representing public and private forest landowners, including tribal foresters; environmental, conservation, and forestry organizations; state legislative staff; and SFR scientists, who heard from a diverse group of speakers focusing on market-based conservation strategies.  The Forum developed recommendations for future action for consideration by the Legislature, the Commissioner of Public Lands, and the Governor, as well as by Forum participants and their constituencies.
  • The Washington Park Arboretum’s Gateway to Chile Garden celebrated its official opening in October. The half-acre Gateway, located at the southern intersection of Arboretum Drive and Lake Washington, is the first display garden to be completed in Phase II of the Arboretum’s 14-acre, ecogeographic Pacific Connections Garden.
  • Our Forest Resources Alumni Association's annual event in November attracted a diverse group of alumni who caught up on news, heard about the latest SFR initiatives, and honored this year’s alumni award recipients.  Awards were: Lifetime Achievement Award to John Helms, ’60,  Professor Emeritus at the University of California; Honored Alumnus Award to Ann Forest Burns, ’71, American Forest Resources Council Vice President; Distinguished Teaching Award to Professor David Ford; and Honorary Alumnus Award to Robert Harris, founder and Chairman of the Board of Harris Group, Inc. and supporter of the Washington Pulp and Paper Foundation.
  • Our programs received national and international media coverage, including BBC TV and radio features on the Wind River Canopy Crane Research Facility, and a PBS Nature program entitled " A Murder of Crows," featuring research by John Marzluff and his graduate students.
  • We co-sponsored the College of the Environment lecture series, "Eating Your Environment" on food and the environment; and co-hosted with WSU a conference on regional food security held at the UW Botanic Gardens. Both were widely attended.
  • Throughout my tenure as Interim Director, I have been gratified and humbled by my interactions with our alumni who have gone on to be leaders and innovators in a diverse array of professions around the world.  I am continually impressed by their achievements and by their legacy.

All of this good news would not be possible without you.  Your support over the coming months will become ever more important in these challenging times.  As you read the articles in this newsletter, and share our concerns as well as our accomplishments, please remember that your support is the bedrock that sustains and inspires us.

With best regards for the holiday season and much success in the New Year!

Tom Hinckley