Letter to President McCormick and Provost Huntsman:
The College of Forest Resources (CFR) has established mission and vision statements that provide guidance in very broad terms. These statements were developed and refined over the past six years. This process involved broad participation by the faculty, staff, students and administration of the College. Our outside constituents, including the alumni, were also consulted.
VISION: The College of Forest Resources will be preeminent in teaching and advancing the frontiers of knowledge in integrated resource stewardship and utilization in natural and managed environments.
MISSION: The College of Forest Resources is dedicated to generating and disseminating knowledge for the stewardship of natural and managed environments and the use of their products and services through teaching, research, and professional and public outreach.
Within this framework we developed two strategic themes.
STRATEGIC THEMES: 1) sustainable forest enterprises and 2) land and ecosystem management in an urbanizing world
These three statements provide direction for all of CFR's activities and are continually re-examined to ensure relevance. In particular, they help define goals for our teaching, research and outreach programs as well as our development strategies. Centers, cooperatives and academic divisions within the CFR have articulated program-specific goals consistent with the above direction.
Challenges facing CFR are numerous, but all are solvable if we join together and work toward our common goals. These challenges are no different than those facing any professional program where alternative strategies are being developed and implemented. While natural resource management issues have captured considerable attention, we are in an excellent position to be an active player in providing solutions. We recognize that both the management goals and practices for natural wild lands, managed forests and urban and suburban landscapes in the PNW and around the world have changed dramatically in the past ten years. We must embrace the new paradigm of sustainable ecosystem-based management and adapt CFR's programs to include a broader array of non-traditional interest groups and constituents.
Continuing to characterize interest groups (both internal and external to the College) as "green or brown" serves no useful purpose and, in fact, contributes to an artificial distinction within both the College and the larger external community. Sustainability is the bridge across this philosophical divide and is the cornerstone of our vision for the future.
Societal demands for both commodities and amenities on managed forests, natural wild lands, and urban and suburban landscapes have dramatically shifted. Although some people date this to 1990, with the northern spotted owl controversy, this societal shift actually began after World War II and has grown steadily ever since. Increasing human populations, the growth of economic prosperity, mobility, and technology, as well as a change from an industrial to an information-based society, have accelerated the shift. Humans continue to need and consume products and amenities of forests and other wildland ecosystems. However, society's perceptions and understanding of these consumption patterns continually evolves. People now demand that both producers and consumers eliminate negative effects generated by their respective activities. This has led to an increasing demand for the use of environmentally friendly technologies, sustainable production processes and the protection and restoration of ecological functions and services so that future generations may enjoy the same products and amenities that we now enjoy. CFR recognizes this and is helping to address these new realities.
Responding to these new societal demands is not an easy task. It has been, and continues to be, a wrenching transformation for many forest landowners in rural Washington State. Large shifts in wealth have occurred as a result of this paradigm shift. Whole communities and families have been affected. Questions of fairness and equity abound, as do strategies for rectifying these inequities. A commitment to answering these questions is paramount, for we believe that the shift toward sustainable management is irreversible and will only grow stronger. Some people lament the misguided priorities of elements of society who place more value on threatened or endangered wildlife or plant species than on human use of ecosystems. Others lament the shortsighted vision of those with short-term profit and consumption motives. Our task is to educate society about the positive contributions of active sustainable management while, at the same time, confirming the importance of protecting scientifically, culturally or historically unique landscapes. We believe that we can achieve this balance by embracing the concept of sustainability throughout all of CFR's programs and initiatives.
CFR's vision, mission, goals and priorities are consistent with these realities. However, we must accelerate our development of programs to keep pace with demands of society. We must continue to anticipate the future so that we can educate and professionally train scientists, decision makers and informed citizens to take leadership roles and bring the best science that is appropriate to solve future problems. We must continue to define and initiate new academic, research, and outreach programs, modify existing programs and (perhaps) discontinue programs that do not effectively respond to the new challenges that society has bestowed upon us. None of these are easy tasks to accomplish, but our vision and direction must continue to address all of them in a timely manner.
We must also recognize our responsibility and contribution to the larger University community. CFR has made significant gains in recent years by greatly expanding service-oriented courses. In terms of student credit hours per faculty FTE in courses taught by CFR faculty, we are the fourth highest-ranking college or school in the University. This is a commendable achievement for a professional college. However, we must continually re-examine the allocation of resources to accomplish this expanded service role so that we do not adversely affect our professionally oriented programs.
In responding to the challenges that confront us, we will utilize all resources at our disposal. These include our faculty, staff, students, alumni and external constituents. To be effective, we must continue to enlarge membership in the CFR community by opening it up to a wider set of viewpoints and value sets. We must, in short, embrace the professional diversity that exists within CFR, the University and society, and bring these multiple views into the discussion of the continuous renewal of CFR. Different perspectives on the part of highly diverse faculty and students will necessarily remain a hallmark of the CFR, but we will continue to strive to create an atmosphere of mutual respect and cooperation to advance overall CFR and University goals. Improvement in the quality of the workplace is of paramount importance to all of us in CFR. We endorse the principles of inclusion, consensus, fairness, honesty, accountability and integration. Consistent use of these principles will lead to increased levels of trust throughout the organization.
To guide the discussion we are initiating, we believe that our vision should focus on the key-integrating theme of sustainability. While no single word can capture all we do (or may do in the future), we believe that all of us can embrace sustainability as a unifying theme and use it to guide our educational, research, outreach and development goals for the next five years.
Sustainability implies a rational and dynamic continuation of a set of events, activities, functions or processes over a long period of time. It further implies that an interdisciplinary set of social, biological and physical sciences and skills are brought to bear in understanding, managing (including restoring and preserving), and using the products and amenities of forests, natural wild lands, and urban and suburban ecosystems so that they are maintained in a productive state over the long term. We believe that the term "sustainability" captures the essence of what society demands.
Under the umbrella of sustainability, we propose to utilize three integrating metrics: 1) ecological sustainability, 2) economic sustainability, and 3) social sustainability. All CFR programs will directly relate to the support of these components in measurable ways. To develop and implement programs in support of this vision, we propose to continue to use the guiding concepts of accessibility, accountability, integration, and preeminence as identified by past CFR strategic planning efforts. Measurable criteria to monitor progress during implementation include those shown in the attached table.
Each center, cooperative and academic division within CFR will assess its contribution to College programs by demonstrating how each activity it supports relates to the concept of sustainability. Unit specific goals and resources required to attain them will continually be revised to ensure CFR-wide compatibility. CFR staff, faculty, students, alumni and external constituents will have ample opportunities to participate in this endeavor. We are convinced that full involvement of all parties is critical to the future success of the CFR.
Development initiatives will be critical to the future success of CFR. Donors will be afforded considerable flexibility in visualizing how their gifts may support the CFR vision. These efforts will be closely integrated with the planning efforts of each CFR unit. Funds to support program enhancements and operations as well as sustaining efforts such as endowed professorships, chairs and capital projects will be considered.
The Dean will meet with faculty, staff, center directors, and external constituents to help refine and develop our understanding and expression of this vision. The College Management Council will review draft plans submitted by CFR units no later than November 10, 2001.
B. Bruce Bare, Acting Dean