Message from the Interim Director

Legacy and change, tradition and transition—all have been part of our daily experience this year at SFR.  Budget shortfalls require transformative thinking.  We must be attentive to new and innovative directions as we implement goals to keep us in the top rank of schools offering forestry research and education.  Our legacy and traditions of strategic planning, interdisciplinary collaboration, strong donor support, and public engagement help us in this task. 

I’d like to update you about some transitions that are underway; they include:

  • A national search for a permanent director of SFR was initiated in January 2011.  The search committee identified three candidates who each visited the UW campus and presented their vision for leadership of the School; I want to thank all of you who provided input to the committee in their important task.  After deliberation, the Dean of the College of the Environment has decided to extend the search for a permanent director into the coming academic year in order to ensure the best possible match of leadership skills and experience for SFR.  I will continue in the role of Interim Director through June 15, 2012.
  • The Wind River Canopy Crane Research Facility has enjoyed an incredibly productive 16-years. Unfortunately, U.S. Forest Service budget shortfalls have resulted in the pending closure of the jib and gondola portion of the crane—long-term monitoring equipment will remain on the tower and the legacy of research carried out in the canopy will endure (seearticle in this newsletter).
  • With the signing by Governor Gregoire of SHB 1254, we have an opportunity to review the organization of our research centers. The bill updates language regarding the Institute of Forest Resources, reaffirms the School's important role in forestry research and education leadership in the state, and endorses a collaborative and inter-disciplinary approach to our research programs.  Changes in center leadership have occurred due to retirement and more are coming in the next year.  We will fully engage our stakeholders as we find new ways to organize our research center activities that enhance efficiency, collaboration, and communication with our constituents.
  • Our Bioresource Science and Engineering program is developing the foundation to make the UW a national player in this cutting-edge research area.  Major federal, state, and private support has resulted in upgraded laboratories and expanding expertise in the conversion of biomass to fiber, fuels, and chemicals. Our latest faculty hire, Dr. Fernando Resende, has accepted our offer as an assistant professor of bioresource science and engineering, and will join us when visa and travel arrangements from Brazil are formalized.  Key to the program’s success has been the legacy of donor support by the Denman Chair and Professorship endowments, held by Rick Gustafson and Renata Bura, respectively, and the strong tradition of interdisciplinary collaboration within the School.

In this issue of the SFR News, we also honor the generosity of our donors during fiscal year 2010. The $2 million in private gifts from July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2010 is your contribution to the three-way partnership of support from state funding, sponsored research, and private giving that sustains our programs. We are grateful to each of you who share our commitment to discovery and exploration.   Experiences and accomplishments that your contributions to scholarships and fellowships, faculty support, and outreach and engagement programs helped make happen include:

  • Environmental Science and Resource Management undergraduate Atiya Hollyer has used support from the Mackie Memorial Endowed SchoIarship to enhance her study of wildlife biology and conservation by conducting research in Western Australia, working with Assistant Professor Aaron Wirsing.  
  • Lockwood Fellowship recipient Cynthia Harbison is studying in the Peace Corps Masters International Program (PCMI) in Forestry. Harbison’s main reason for attending the UW was the PCMI program and the strong support for its students.  This summer, she is on her way to Cameroon, her assignmwnt for for the Peace Corps Volunteer segment of her program.
  • Restoration Ecology master’s student Lauren Clark has used support from the James and Marinelle Bethel Endowed Graduate Fellowship to carry out fieldwork for her research on the threatened native species, golden paintbrush (Castilleja levisecta).
  • Gregory Ettl, holder of the Ridgeway Professorship in Forest Resources, is re-engaging students in forest managment learning and practice at C.L. Pack Experimental Forest; see SFR e-news story.
  • Private support for the Northwest Environmental Forum during fiscal year 2010 helped make it possible for the Forum to convene specialists and decision makers in October 2010 to focus on developing an environmental services marketplace in Washington and to conduct a June 2011 session on watershed ecosystem services. Support for the Forum comes from a remarkably diverse array of donors, including NGOs, public agencies, and corporations, and illustrates its ability to engage the public in a broad range of issues related to forestland conversion.
  • We gratefully acknowledge other program support—generous gifts to the UW Botanic Gardens, including major support from the Arboretum Foundation; support for scholarships in the Bioresource Science and Engineering curriculum through the Washington Pulp and Paper Foundation; and endowments fully invested in fiscal year 2010, including the Ed and Linda Schreiner Endowment in Parks and Wildland Sustainability, the Taber Wildlife Student Award, and the West Family Scholarship in Wildlife Ecology.

These are just some examples of how your generosity provides transformative opportunities for our faculty and students. To consider a contribution to SFR scholarship and other support funds, please visit the UW Foundation website.    


Tom Hinckley