A Brief Narative on the School’s Process of Development
Prior to 1920, there were no provisions in Florida’s state constitution for forest practices. The Florida Forestry Association was organized in 1921 in Jacksonville to address the future of its 22.4 million acres of forest land. Among other things, the association pushed for creation of a Board of Forestry by the Florida Legislature in 1927. Still, Florida had been among the last of the states to establish a state forest service and to offer professional forestry courses at a state University.
The board consisted of five members appointed by the governor. Its responsibility was to direct and supervise the work of the newly-created Florida Forest Service. The board was also instrumental in initiating the teaching of forestry at the University of Florida and in securing appropriations toward establishment of its accredited School of Forestry. In response to a widespread interest in public education in forestry at the college level, Assistant Dean Wilmon L. Floyd of the College of Agriculture (and Head of the Department of Horticulture) at the University of Florida organized and taught the first course in forestry (“Introduction to Forestry”) in 1932.
In April 1935, the Florida Legislature approved a continuing appropriation of $7,500 to fund the creation of a Department of Forestry in the College of Agriculture at the University of Florida. Beginning July 1, 1935, Dr. Harold S. Newins, a professional forestry educator, was employed as Professor of Forestry to become the Head of the Forestry Department, at an annual starting salary of $4,000. With the establishment of this one-man department, the College of Agriculture was responding to increasing demands for professional training which, prior to Professor Newins’ arrival, had consisted of Dean Floyd’s single introductory forestry course. In July 1935, the plans for the expanded forestry curriculum were discussed at a conference attended by interested citizens. In attendance were M.J. Roess, President, Florida Forestry Association, Jacksonville; C.H. Overman, Bagdad, Vice-President; Mrs. Linwood Jeffreys and Mr. S. Bryan Jennings, members of the Florida Board of Forestry, and both of Jacksonville; C.H. Coulter, Assistant State Forester, Tallahassee; G.P. Shingler, USDA Naval Stores Research, Lake City; J. G. Osborne, USFS Research Station, Lake City; Mrs. M.M. Parrish, President, Florida Federation of Garden Clubs, Gainesville; B.F. Williamson, Gainesville; and W. L’Engle Barnett, Mount Dora. The University was represented by Dr. John J. Tigert, President; Dean Wilmon Newell, General A.H. Blanding, Assistant Deans W.L. Floyd and H.H. Hume, and by Dean Walter J. Matherly.
The forestry program evolved from that point into what it is today. Assigned an office at 109 Floyd Hall, Professor Newins began work September 1, 1935, in what was then the College of Agriculture’s main building. One month later, October 1, 1935, Forestry’s first professor planted a slash pine tree close to the Plaza of the Americas to commemorate the initiation of professional forestry education at the University of Florida. Most of the first forestry students came from the College of Agriculture. Early in October 1935, the Forestry Club was established. During these early days, the department’s administration was performed by Professor Newins without any official assistance but working in a harmonious atmosphere of cooperation with other departments of the University.
With the establishment of the Department, students could complete enough courses to major in forestry. Dr. Newins advertised two Teaching Fellows positions, one in Silviculture and the other in Forest Utilization, which were to be filled by July 1936 at an annual salary $1,000. Sixty applications were received for the two positions; James W. Miller, Jr., a North Carolina State University graduate and a member of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), and Percy W. Frazer, a Yale graduate and a forester member of the CCC, were selected and assumed their posts effective September 1936. These two faculty members were assigned the respective fellowships of “Some Aspects of the Cellulose and Naval Stores Industries of the South” and “The Ecology of the Slash Pine.” Frazer and Miller would divide the teaching load between themselves. Two curricula were offered: a 4-year professional curriculum (Bachelor of Agriculture [B.A.] with the designation Forestry) and a 2-year nonprofessional curriculum (Ranger Certificate). The two curricula were parallel but separate: Ranger courses were offered to men already in the profession who wanted to improve their practical forestry knowledge; the ranger program was dropped early in the department’s history (1947).
Professor Newins added 6 weeks of summer camp to the curricula for forestry majors, believing it was a necessary adjunct to a forestry education. To transport students, a school truck was purchased for field trips to nearby national forests as well as to other locales.
But more was to come. Professor Newins envisioned forestry education as being important enough to warrant the status of a separate school with a complete faculty and with the authority to grant its own Bachelor of Science Degree in Forestry . This goal was realized on May 27, 1937, when the Florida Legislature (Senate Bill No. 15) authorized and appropriated $25,000 on a continuing basis to create and operate a School of Forestry within the College of Agriculture. The pen used by Governor Fred P. Cone in signing the bill and a picture of the event are on display outside the Director’s Office, 138 Newins-Ziegler Hall. Professor Newins was appointed the School’s first Director.
It took only two years for Professor Newins to construct a more comprehensive forestry program and to begin hiring new faculty. Edwin A. Ziegler was the first Professor of Forest Economics and Finance; Kenneth B. Swinford, a Purdue University graduate, and Wilbur B. DeVall, a Syracuse graduate, became Teaching Fellows. Frazer and Miller were made Assistant Professors, and George F. Weber of the Agricultural Experiment Station was named Professor of Forest Pathology on a part-time basis. In 2 years the School’s faculty had swelled from one to seven and at the end of the 1937-38 academic year, the first graduating class of eight were awarded BSF degrees.
The faculty took an active part in professional forestry affairs. Papers were presented at civic organizations and before the Southern Section of the Society of American Foresters (SAF). On one such occasion in 1937 the Section Meeting was an all-night affair held on a fishing boat on the St. Marks River when members had no escape from the presented papers.
Expansion soon resulted in professional forestry recognition for the University of Florida, augmented in 1938 when the State Board of Control of the University appointed Ruthford H. Westveld as Professor of Silviculture, whose textbook, “Applied Silviculture in the United States,” lent more prestige to the School. Outgrowing its original quarters, faculty had to be moved to the top floor of the Horticulture Building. On April 14, 1938, Tau Alpha Nu, the Honorary Forestry Fraternity, was established to encourage a high standard of leadership and scholarship. Lewis T. Nieland became the School’s first State Extension Forester (farm forester) employed by the University of Florida’s Agricultural Extension Service, in cooperation with USDA, on June 16, 1938. Assisted by student workers, the School’s wood products faculty initiated a wood preservation research program which continued through 1947. Hundreds of wood stakes and fence posts were treated by various methods (brushing, dipping, soaking, and later pressure treating) using state-of-the-art preservative chemicals.
Student field trips were made to a wide range of wood products industries. Two 6-week summer camp sessions were maintained. In 1938, students first used the Florida Conservation Preserve at Welaka as a summer training area. Prior to graduation, students were required to complete a field trip to tropical areas to the south including the Florida Keys to familiarize themselves with its flora, so completely unique from forests of the temperate zone. Dr. John C. Gifford, Professor of Tropical Forestry, University of Miami, a charter member of the SAF and founder of the American Tree Association’s American Foresters magazine, supervised arrangements for these tropical expeditions. Gifford lectured annually at the University of Florida’s School of Forestry and his experiences were a real advantage to students of both universities.
The School of Forestry having been established, the next step was to begin to meet the building facilities requirements of the SAF for professional accreditation. The School also needed to acquire forest land to serve as teaching/research laboratory. This process, begun in 1935, is covered under the section entitled the Austin Cary Memorial Forest, this volume. Eventually, through legislative assistance, 2,043 acres were purchased to accomplish the goals of academic and research excellence.
Through the labors of an illustrious faculty, the School’s national reputation was growing, aided by the creation of the Austin Cary Memorial honoring the well known and respected charter member of the SAF. (See the profile of Dr. Cary’s life and career, this volume.) Fellow members and friends of Austin Cary (primarily lumbermen in the southern states) sponsored the establishment of his memorial at the entrance to the Austin Cary Memorial Forest, consisting of a grove of 71 slash pine trees, Dr. Cary’s age at time of his death. The grove was dedicated on January 14, 1939, at a ceremony attended by prominent foresters and wood industry leaders from across the country. The event focused national attention on Florida and on its forestry school. On May 15, 1936, the School received the gift of six large boxes of Dr Cary’s technical forestry notes donated by his brother, George F. Cary, of Mount Dora. Also donated was Dr. Cary’s personal forestry equipment (calipers, instrument board, increment borer, diameter tapes, and a clinometer). These materials were made available to southern lumber and timber operators as well as students.
Aside from the Austin Cary Memorial, other important steps broadened the scope of the School’s educational thrust. A Wood Products Laboratory was build on campus equipped with a dry kiln for forest products teaching and research. The laboratory allowed faculty to demonstrate through applied research the best possible utilization of wood. Much of the equipment and building materials were donated by Florida’s wood-using industries. Labor construction costs were borne by the Work Progress Administration (WPA), a federal agency which had a broad national charter to stimulate the nation’s economy by providing jobs for unemployed citizens. In December 1938, the plan was approved by the University and building construction commenced during the fall of 1941. The Annual Meeting of the Florida Forest and Park Association (March 27, 1942) was the occasion for the new laboratory’s first experimental run of its dry kiln. At the dedication ceremony, the School’s commitment to the wood products field was emphasized. The year 1942 was also noteworthy inasmuch as the School offered a course in Principles of Wildlife Management for the first time. Although a beginning was made by the School in the fields of wood utilization and beginning was made by the School in the fields of wood utilization and wildlife management, its main thrust would continued to be primarily a 4-year professional forestry curriculum.
Acquisition of the Austin Cary Memorial Forest (a forest of at least 2,000 acres was a requirement for accreditation) and construction of the Wood Products Laboratory greatly enhanced the School’s hopes for accreditation by the SAF. In 1935, only 20 forestry departments and schools in the United States had been approved by the Society as having the necessary staff and facilities to provide students with an adequate forestry education. The School was visited in 1943 by an SAF reviewing committee which determined that the program satisfied the criteria for accreditation, and the school became the 21st U.S. forestry program to be accredited.
WWII Confronts the university; First Emptying and then Swelling its Population With Returning Veterans
World War II had the effect of almost emptying the school of its students and many faculty members as well. And, other than the visits by SAF’s Accreditation Committee, the School essentially closed. In 1941, Professors Frazer and Swinford were the first faculty members to leave for war service; Dr. Ziegler left for a government post on the War Production Board in 1943; in the same year Mr. DeVall left to join the Timber Production War Project of that same board; Professor Westveld left to do graduate work for his Doctorate at Michigan State College; and Professor Miller changed over from peace-time instruction of forestry students to war-time instruction of Aviation Cadets in the College Training Detachment. So once again Professor Newins found himself with the lion’s share of the work in running the School. Florida’s goal of a top-flight, accredited forestry program having been reached, the School would be poised to receive returning veterans as students as they began pouring in at the end of WW II. On September 4, 1946, the School of Forestry entered into an agreement with the Association of American Railroads (AAR) to establish a National Testing Area at the Austin Cary Memorial Forest, where a one-half acre site was developed to test wood preservative-treated materials exposed to termite and fungus attacks.
In 1947, members of the University of Florida’s Forestry Club honored five former members who lost their lives during World War II. A bronze plaque mounted on a memorial base of native stone was dedicated in a ceremony on the south shore of Lake Mize in the Austin Cary Memorial Forest in memory of Richard H. Empie, Ralph E. Thomas, Harry D. Hedrick, Charles E. Hampton, and Harrison B. Walton, Jr.
The war being over, faculty and students returned to normal activities. Mr. Swinford returned after five years of military service. In 1947, Dr. Westveld and Mr. DeVall left for Auburn University to start a School of Forestry; meanwhile Professor Charles G. Geltz of Purdue University joined the faculty as Professor of Silviculture. Professor Edward C. Carlson of Minnesota was appointed Assistant Professor of Forestry to teach Wildlife Management, and Stephen L. Beckwith was hired and represents the first wildlife faculty at the School.
The School’s academic programs continued to improve in quality. A baccalaureate program was initiated in forest products in 1946; the Master of Science in Forestry degree was authorized in 1947; a baccalaureate program in wildlife management was initiated in 1948; and the Florida Legislature approved funds for the School’s first research in 1949. Dr. Reynolds B. Smith was appointed Associate Professor to devote special attention to wood utilization. Also in 1949, the Columbia Forest Ranger School, which offered a 1-year vocational course designed to prepare foremen for work in forestry and wood utilization, was assigned to the School (The Ranger School was separated from the School of Forestry at the University of Florida to become a part of the Lake City Community College in 1962) and Thomas Herndon was hired to assume leadership for Forestry Extension. By the end of the 1948-49 school year, 65 BSF degrees had been granted, with 66 in 1950 — the greatest number of graduates in the history of the School until that time. To accommodate the increased number of students, J.W. Willingham and Don M. Post were added to the faculty in 1950 and 1951. In 1950 Xi Sigma Pi, the National Forestry Honorary Fraternity, installed a chapter at Florida to recognize its outstanding students.
Following Professor Newins retirement, Clemens M. Kaufman was recruited from N.C. State University to lead the School. As gratifying as recognition for students was, the School began working toward excellence in forestry research by hiring new faculty and starting new studies (a chronological list of faculty is included in this volume). The first major step in this direction occurred in 1954 when Thomas O. Perry, later assisted by Chi Wu Wang, organized the first ever University/Industry Research Cooperative in Forest Genetics. The School and ten major pulp and paper companies of the Southeast pooled resources to develop the Cooperative Forest Genetics Research Program. To facilitate the transfer of the growing body of research information, Anthony S. Jensen was hired in Forestry Extension.
In 1955, a 40-acre tract located about 8 miles northwest of Gainesville was purchased by the genetics program for the School to primarily use as a seed orchard. After 5 years, scion grafting and orchard techniques had reached a stage where member companies could carry forward their own seed production programs. New faculty Robert L. Barnes, Instructor in Forestry and Forest Research, and Charles W. Ralston, Assistant Professor of Silviculture, worked on the problems of determining the potential productivity of certain planting areas in Florida. In 1955, information concerning soil factors related to growth and yield of slash pine plantations was published by Barnes and Ralston as Florida Agriculture Experiment Station Bulletin 559 — a landmark in southern pine forest management. The same year, the School was a leader in organizing the Southern Wood Seasoning Association (SWSA) as one of a dozen or more “kiln clubs” across the nation. Also in 1955, crosstie seasoning research was initiated by the School’s new woods specialist, Dr. Jacob B. Huffman. His studies demonstrated that southern hardwood crossties could be kiln dried satisfactorily in 3 days, an improvement over conventional air seasoning which required 3-12 months. Dr. Ray E. Goddard joined the School in 1959 as an Assistant Professor and Director of the Cooperative Forest Genetics Research Program.
As the School’s research programs expanded, it was appropriate that it be incorporated into the Florida Agricultural Experiment Station (AES), and this step was taken in 1959 to the mutual benefit of both organizations. A direct relationship with the AES provided for clear-cut budget allocations between research and teaching and permitted an officially recognized channel for modest federal funds in support of forestry research. During fiscal year ending 1960, about 20 formal projects and untargeted research studies were underway on a wide range of topics.
The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is Created to Coordinate the University’s Agricultural Programs as Forest Research Moves into High Gear
To improve coordination of all agricultural programs at the University of Florida and to eliminate duplication of administration, the Florida Board of Control approved the creation of the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) in April 1964, to include the four major agricultural units: College of Agriculture, School of Forestry, Agricultural Experiment Station, and Cooperative Extension Service. The three related functions of resident instruction, research, and extension would thus be combined for greater efficiency. To lead the School with a comprehensive mission and expanding programs, John Gray was hired. He replaced J.W. Willingham, Acting Director, who met an untimely death in an accident.
During the 1960s, forestry research emphasized tree physiology, forest fertilization and tree nutrition, soils, water management, wood preservation, improved harvesting equipment, forest genetics, wildlife, pest and disease control. To complement these programs, research was initiated on factors affecting the supply and demand of pulpwood, by E.T. Sullivan, Professor of Forest Economics. The forestry research program was expanded in 1964-65 with the assistance of three new faculty members. R. K. Strickland in Forest Genetics, Dr. Wayne H. Smith, in Forest Soils and Dr. Robert G. Stanley, in Forest Physiology and Biochemistry. In 1966, a new project to study the effects of water table levels on the growth of slash pine was initiated by C.M. Kaufman, Professor Silviculture, in cooperation with the Soils and Agricultural Engineering Departments (Dr. W.L. Pritchett, Soil Science, and Professor R.E. Choate, Agricultural Engineering). In the mid-60’s the Forest Physiology and Genetics Laboratory was founded.
In July 1967, the School co-hosted an international symposium on forest fertilization in Gainesville, sharing duties with the U.S. Forest Service, The Tennessee Valley Authority, and the Department of Soil Sciences. In December 1967, ten pulp and paper and three fertilizer companies agreed to join the School and the Soil Science Department to form a new program, Cooperative Research In Forest Fertilization (CRIFF), led by Dr. Pritchett, from Soils and Dr. Smith of the School.
The School’s wildlife programs having been expanded by recruitment of Dr. George W. Cornwell in 1964, a Student Wildlife Chapter affiliated with The Wildlife Society was installed. Up until that time, Wildlife supported only two faculty members. Research in wildlife biology and ecology was expanded as a result of several grants from the Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission and the Delta Waterfowl Research Station, Manitoba, Canada, and in 1968 a Wildlife Ecology Laboratory was established. In 1967, Dr. Robert A. Schmidt was hired to lead a forest pathology program on fusiform rust on pine as a part of the forest biology team.
The year 1971 was a watershed for the School. The faculty had made a proposal to create a College of Natural Resources by expanding its mission. This somewhat visionary motion was not approved by IFAS Administration; alternatively, the name of the School was changed to School of Forest Resources and Conservation (SFRC) to reflect broadened responsibilities and activities. That same year range studies were added to the research spectrum of forestry, wildlife, forest products, and recreation. To accomodate this broadened responsibility assigned the School, a range scientist, Dr. Larry D. White (1970), a forest recreation extension educator, Dr. Dennis R. Crowe (1972), a fisheries scientist, Dr. Jerome V. Shireman (1973), additional wildlife faculty, Dr. Lawrence D. Harris (1972) and Dr. David H. Hirth (1973) were hired. The Tree Improvement Program was strengthened with the hiring of Dr. Donald L. Rockwood. Also that year, the School was singularly honored when it was selected to host a meeting of the International Union of Forestry Research Organizations (IUFRO) with 681 scientists from 57 foreign nations attending during a week in March. A high point of the week was the formal dedication of a symbolic grove of pines on the Austin Cary Memorial Forest honoring the event. A tree of selected parentage was planted to honor each member nation of the International Union of Societies of Foresters (IUSF). Dr. Verne “Les” Harper, a SFRC Professor of Natural Resources Policy, was president of IUSF.
By 1972 the School’s research commitments were bearing fruit with the discovery of the first culture of the causal fungus of fusiform rust independent of its pine host. This discovery provided an important tool for future research, since fusiform rust had been reported to be the most serious disease of southern pines.
During the decade 1972-1982, the graduate enrollment increased, probably the result of the growing research. In 1973, a 420-acre tract near Brooksville, Florida, formerly held by The Nature Conservancy, a private corporation which purchases environmentally-sensitive areas, was transferred from the federal government to IFAS and assigned to the School for research and teaching in wildlife, range, and recreational resources management. This parcel of old-growth longleaf pine on typical deep rolling sandhills of central Florida was managed in cooperation with the Division of Forestry for public use as a nature study area. The Anhinga Roost Island, 500 odd acres of shoreline and lake bottom of nearby Newnan’s Lake, was donated to the School by Buckeye Cellulose Corporation for research and instruction in freshwater fisheries and waterfowl management. Dr. Katherine Ewel was appointed Interim Assistant Professor in 1973 and Assistant Professor in Systems Ecology in 1977. Cooperative efforts in forest biology led to about 40 lines of slash pine with a desirable degree of resistance to fusiform rust. Definitions of site factors which contribute to disease development and fertility management practices for Wet Savanna forest soils were identified.
The years became punctuated by many faculty research achievements. In 1975, Dr. Huffman and Don Post learned that black gum, elm, and hickory crossties were sound, while oak, beech, and sweetgum had become badly deteriorated by decay. Dr. Goddard reported that his project, ‘Breeding Superior Strains of Southern Pines’, had established 1,500 acres of slash pine seed orchards which were producing seed for planting 60-80 million seedlings annually. Also Dr. Pritchett of Soils and the School’s J.W. Gooding reported that southern Coastal Plain conditions are all but ideal for intensive forest management and provided fertilizer recommendations. A wood gasifier was developed by Don Post to run an internal combustion engine, demonstrating that old technology could be revived as an alternative energy source for mechanical purposes. Dr. Wayne Marion was added to the faculty in 1975 to strengthen the wildlife program.
In 1976, the U.S. Forest Service established an Intensive Management Practices Assessment Research Center with the School and forest industry, using an initial appropriation of $300 thousand approved by the Congress to support joint cooperative research. This multidisciplinary project helped develop BMPs to protect water quality. Also, fisheries research facilities were established at the University’s “farm area” on campus and at the Austin Cary Memorial Forest. The School initiated research in Fisheries Science and was assigned responsibility for some aspects of the Sea Grant program by Dr. Marion L. Clarke joining the school faculty in 1977.
Academic pressures were being felt acutely by mid-1970s. Enrollment of junior, senior, and graduate students reached 260 in 1975 (from 41 in 1963). The School’s master’s degrees were revised; the Master of Science in Forestry changed to Master of Science; the nontheses master’s programs were offered as Master of Forest Resources and Conservation. In September 1976 the new 27,098-square-foot Newins-Ziegler Hall was dedicated as the School’s first modern, comprehensive complex for the entire forestry, wildlife-range, and fisheries faculties and students. The new Center for Aquatic Weeds complex, located about 9 miles northwest of campus, provided additional space for fisheries research. New faculty hired during 1976 were Dr. Ronald F. Labisky in Wildlife Ecology, Dr. Loukas G. Arvanitis in Forest Biometrics, and Dr. George M. Blakeslee in Forest Pathology. In 1977, Dr. Richard F. Fisher replaced the retiring Dr. Kaufman in Silviculture.
Increased state and federal support allowed for the School to develop its doctoral program by 1978, when a Ph.D. in Forest Biology and Wildlife Ecology was approved. This development greatly enhanced the graduate program and increased the School’s ability to attract both highly qualified graduate faculty and students. Support staff had to be increased as well to provide more breath and depth to teaching and research programs. Added faculty expertise included forest hydrology (Dr. Hans Riekerk), limnology (Dr. Dan Canfield), and fisheries. Although these new research faculty members didn’t contribute directly to undergraduate instruction per se, they did give lectures open to all and interacted with undergraduates in the course of their daily activities. A number of adjunct faculty were also added to the School. These included researchers from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Cooperative Research Unit, established in the School in 1978, the U.S.D.A. Forest Service’s Southeastern Forest Experiment Station, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, other federal and state scientists, and faculty members from other departments of the University of Florida.
In March 1978, Dr. Arnett C. Mace, Jr., was selected as the School’s fourth Director. Second-level administration was organized to have multifunctional administrative responsibilities; one being program leader for forestry, forest biology, and forest products; the second for fisheries, range ecosystem management, recreational resource management, systems ecology, and wildlife management. Support for the School’s programs through contracts and grants, industry cooperatives, and private endowments also increased significantly.
Dr. George W. Tanner (1978) replaced Dr. Dennis Hunter (1976) in Range Science. Dr. D. Mitchell Flinchum (1979) took over Forest Management Extension. Dr. Henry L. Gholz assumed responsibility for Forest Ecology when Wayne Smith became director for the UF/IFAS Center for Environmental and Natural Resource Programs. A diversity of agency and industry support caused the School’s funding to grow, from $500,000 in 1977-78 to $1,700,000 by 1981.
The largest gift in the history of the University prior to 1980 was bestowed on the School of Forest Resources and Conservation by the estate of the late Katharine Ordway on June 26, 1980. The New York-based Goodhill Foundation, created by Ms. Ordway, contributed $5.25 million to endow the Katharine Ordway Chair of Ecosystem Conservation, to be shared by the School and the Florida Museum of Natural History. The Katharine Ordway Preserve, 6,145 acres of sandhill scrub forest in Putnam County, was purchased and a maintenance endowment was also made a stipulation of the gift. The Ordway endowment enhanced the School’s programs in Forest Ecology. Also, an agreement with The Nature Conservancy gave the University of Florida stewardship and research potential over an adjacent 2,950-acres, the Swisher Memorial Preserve, allowing for the endowment of the Carl S. Swisher Chair in Water Resources. The neighboring preserves are together 9,000 acres of sandhill scrub forest dotted with lakes — the major ecosystem of central Florida before Europeans and developers arrived and home to many of the state’s unique plants and animals. To accommodate the expanded opportunities and to maintain strengths in established programs, Dr. Michael Collopy (1980) arrived in Wildlife Ecology, Dr. Robert Shaw (1980) was hired on in Range Science, Dr. Roger Webb (1980) in Forest Pathology, and Dr. Duane Dippon (1981) in Forest Management Economics. In 1984, Dr. Jon Johnson became responsible for Tree Physiology, Dr. Eric Jokela became the School’s silviculturist and Dr. Nancy Arny (Pywell) took over Natural Resources Education. In 1985, Dr. Tim White became Director of the Tree Improvement Program, when Dr. Ray Goddard retired, and Dr. Mark Lesney was hired to start a Forest Biotechnology program.
A major School reorganization took place in May 1984. The School again proposed a College of Natural Resources with the three initial departments being programs of the School. Although the College proposal was rejected, the School was academically divided into three departments: Forestry, Fisheries and Aquaculture, and Wildlife and Range Sciences, and became a focal point for numerous environmental activities in Florida. Drs. Loukas G. Arvanitis, Jerome Shireman, and Ronald F. Labisky, respectively, were selected as acting chairmen of the newly formed departments. The School broadened its instruction, research, and extension roles and offered state-wide professional education programs in forestry, wildlife and range sciences, natural resources conservation, and fisheries and aquaculture. The same three undergraduate majors were retained: Forestry, Wildlife Ecology, and Natural Resource Conservation. In 1986, Dr. Patrick C. Reid joined the School to serve as Chairman of the Department of Forestry. During the period 1985-1988, the Forestry program in Florida was subjected to important administrative and programmatic changes aimed at increasing its academic effectiveness. In 1988, two new programs were initiated: one in Agroforestry, led by Dr. P.K. Nair (1987) and another in Urban Forestry, led by Dr. Mary Duryea, who was hired in 1985 to lead forest regeneration and early growth extension programming. Also, two minors were initiated in Forestry and in Wildlife Ecology. In 1986, Alan Long assumed responsibility for the forest operations program.
Fifty Years of Professional Forestry Education Leaves Mark on the State and the School Moves Forward
To mark the 50th Anniversary of professional forestry education at the University of Florida, a commemorative seedling was planted just west of Newins-Ziegler Hall on September 29, 1985. The “super tree” was a fast-growing, disease-resistant slash pine of the type researchers in the School have spent more than 25 years refining. Today these improved seedlings are planted on 9 out of 10 acres of commercial slash pine land in the South. During the planting ceremony, Forest Economist Dr. Robert Abt said that improving the slash pine’s growth rate has been one of the advances which has allowed the nation to harvest more wood from a decreasing forest land base.
In 1990-1991, the faculty had begun to consider making revisions in its Forestry, Wildlife Ecology, and Natural Resource Conservation curricula. All three majors had nearly identical sets of preprofessional requirements and five common professional courses. This decision was prompted by changing needs in professional education, by recommendations of the 1987 SAF Reaccreditation Review, by the technological advances in resource management, and by changes in society at large.
In the summer of 1991, Dr. Mace left the School to become Dean of the School of Forest Resources, University of Georgia. Among Dr. Mace’s many accomplishments in the University was highlighting awareness of the need for a College of Natural Resources (proposed again in 1991) and at the School, leading the Alumni Association in the building of a 3,200-square-foot log teaching conference center at the Austin Cary Memorial Forest. Dr. Patrick Reid was appointed Acting Director, but he would leave to become Director of the School of Renewable Natural Resources at the University of Arizona in August 1992, when Dr. Arvanitis was appointed Acting Director as a result of a task force appointed by the Provost. A new College of Natural Resources and Environment was established in November 1992 at the University to address the growing needs of students in these important areas. Dr. John Davis was recruited to take over leadership of the Forest Biotechnology program and Dr. Douglas Carter to assume responsibility for Forest Management/Economics teaching/research program. In addition, a modern GIS/GPS remote sensing laboratory was organized by Dr. Loukas Arvanitis.
To enhance minority participation in the Forestry and Natural Resource Conservation majors, a joint program with Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University (FAMU) was initiated in 1992. Utilizing the academic resources of both institutions to provide general education and professional courses, students complete their first 2 years of coursework at FAMU and then transfer to the upper division at UF. The USDA Forest Service is currently providing scholarships for up to 5 years to qualified students, who are then employed by the Forest Service for 4 years following graduation.
Effective Fall 1994 and in conjunction with the Wildlife Ecology and Conservation Department and the College of Agriculture, the School initiated a Natural Resource Conservation (NRC) major at the Milton Campus of Pensacola Junior College (PJC) for the benefit of west Florida residents unable to attend the University of Florida in Gainesville. Instruction is primarily by UF faculty stationed at Milton but also will utilize the academic resources of PJC, the University of West Florida, and the West Florida Agricultural Research and Education Center of IFAS. This curriculum parallels the Gainesville-based NRC program. Dr. Peter Linehan, Assistant Professor of Forest Economics, was hired to lead SFRC participation in the NRC program at Milton.
In 1997, the School initiated a 3+1+1 program with Tuskegee Institute. After three years at Tuskegee, students take one year in SFRC and get a BS degree in Forestry at Tuskegee. One more year and they can earn an MFRC degree from UF.
In 1992 a College of Natural Resources and Environment was authorized for the University. With this goal set by the School in 1971 and proposed again in 1984 and 1991 accomplished, it became appropriate that the role of the School to be refocused. In January 1, 1993, the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture was separated from the School, and on July 1, 1994 the Department of Wildlife and Range Science was also moved to Departments in the College of Agriculture. Concomitantly with the move of Wildlife, the Forestry Department was eliminated and its function transferred to the reconstituted School of Forest Resources and Conservation.
Today the School is one of 22 academic/research units within IFAS at the University of Florida. The Director continues to report administratively to the Vice President for Agriculture and Natural Resources and programmatically to the Deans for academic research and extension programs. The School’s mission now is to develop, communicate and apply knowledge for management and conservation of forest resources in an economically, ecologically, and socially sustainable manner. Sucess will allow the School to realize its vision of being the national leader in the program areas we serve and internationally recognized.
Since 1994, the School has moved forward completing research on the Intensive Management Practices Center, the Partnership in Basic Biology Research, the Integrated Pest Management Cooperative, and the Cooperative Research in Forest Fertilization, four pioneering university/industry cooperations. Substantive elements of these were selected for including in two new cooperatives. The Forest Biology Cooperative led by Co-Directors Tim White and Eric Jokela, with Co-Private Investigators George Blakeslee, Don Rockwood and Robert Schmidt, seeks to integrate advances in genetics, pathology, silviculture and soils into comprehensive research. Another new cooperative on Defense Genes in Forest Trees led by John Davis seeks to pursue other areas first addressed in the earlier cooperatives. The School’s programs were recognized when Dr. Henry Gholz’s research site was selected in a North American network of sites researching gaseous exchange in forest canopies.
In 1997, the School was granted a new faculty position for developing a program in Ecotourism. A position was also redirected to Natural Resources Policy. With the authorization to replace the Forest Management Extension/Teaching and Natural Resources Extension/Teaching, new additions were possible. In March 1997, Dr. Michael Jacobson was hired in Forest Management. In December 1997, Dr. Martha Monroe joined the faculty in Natural Resources Education and Dr. Taylor Stein in Ecotourism. Dr. Janaki Alavalapati was hired for 1998 beginnings in Natural Resource Policy.
The 60th anniversary marking the anniversary of the signing Senate Bill 12 in 1937 that established funding for the School of Forestry was celebrated. A celebration ceremony was held May 15, 1997 at the Austin Cary Memorial Forest. The program moderated by Dean of Agriculture, Larry Connor, was highlighted by presentations by Dr. Bob Swinford, Professor of Emeritus, on “how it was in 1937” and by Scott Sager, 1997 School graduate, on “how it is in the celebratory year”. Following the presentation, captains from each graduating class planted a tree commemorating their class in a Tree Walk around Lake Mize. Trees and planting sites were selected by Dr. Mary Duryea and the Urban Forestry class. Following the invitation by SFRC Alumni Association President, Ray Mason, to take the walk, visitors were asked to review the Alumni plans for a Learning Center by retrofitting one of the forest buildings constructed by WPH workers. Dr. Jake Huffman, chair of the development committee, outlined the plans.
As part of the anniversary celebration, a feature on each of the Charter faculty members was included in the periodic SFRC Newsletter for alumni and friends.