Mike Kilgore: A familiar face in a new role
Here’s to thirty-three years! That is the span in which Alan Ek served as Head of the Department of Resources, and what a run it was. Under Alan’s leadership, our forestry program was consistently ranked as one of the top undergraduate forestry programs in the nation. He has taught hundreds of students and influenced countless others through his service to the University and the forestry profession. Personally, he has been a great mentor to me. This past June, Alan retired from the University, although you will still find him in Green Hall helping out with instruction and a few research projects. Alan was recognized at this year’s Society of American Foresters National Convention for his leadership and dedication to the profession of forestry. Thank you Alan for your years of service.
In June, I was appointed by CFANS Dean Brian Buhr to serve as Interim Head of the Department of Forest Resources. It is a great honor and privilege to be asked to serve in this capacity. I am a three-time graduate of the University of Minnesota’s forestry program. Like many forestry students, my decision to pursue studies in natural resources was strongly influenced by my passion for the outdoors, whether it be chasing ruffed grouse, casting a fly on a trout stream, or canoeing in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. I received my undergraduate degree in Recreation Resource Management in 1982, a Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy in Forestry in 1984 and 1990, respectively. In 2001, I joined the faculty of the Department of Forest Resources after seventeen years working outside academia. My teaching and research interests focus on the economic, policy, and administration aspects of forests and natural resource management. I teach a natural resources economics course and co-teach the orientation course for all incoming Forest and Natural Resource Management students. From 2008 until this past June, I served as Director of Graduate Studies for the University of Minnesota’s Natural Resources Science and Management program. My wife Denise and I live in Lino Lakes, MN. We have three sons, two daughters-in-law, and a two-year-old English Setter who shows promise to be a wonderful upland bird dog.
With the help of our outstanding office staff, the transition to my role as Interim Head these past few months has been a lot smoother than I expected. Let me share with you a few observations I have had while serving in my new leadership role. I am continually amazed at the breadth and depth of our faculty’s teaching, research, and outreach efforts. They are engaged in addressing some of the most pressing issues affecting the use, management, and protection of forests. They are truly looked to as the experts in their field, often asked to serve in leadership roles involving the science and management of forests. Additionally, our faculty and staff work closely with a range of stakeholders, including public land managers, private industry, private woodland owners, loggers, and non-governmental organizations, to support their efforts to manage the state’s forest resources for important economic and ecological objectives. The Department’s close working relationship with a number of external organizations has deep historical roots, serving as a key partner in many of the major forestry initiatives, from local to international, for over a century. These deep connections with stakeholders have been and continue to be a source of pride for us and are what distinguish the Department of Forest Resources from other forestry programs around the county.
I am excited to announce new additions to our faculty and staff. We recently completed a national search for a natural resource and environmental policy faculty position and are pleased that Dr. Forrest Fleischman has been hired to fill this position. We are eager to have Forrest become a member of our faculty later this year. Additionally, we are currently interviewing for a new forest biometrics faculty position, funded in part by the USDA-Forest Service’s Northern Research Station. Here is an example of the strong partnership the Department has with this organization. We also hired a new administrative specialist, Kayla Olson, to work in the position previously held by Clara Schreiber. Kayla joined us from the Univeristy of Wisconsin in LaCrosse and is a great addition to our team. We thank Clara for her many years of service and wish her the best in retirement. In October, we hosted University of Minnesota Regent David McMillan at the Cloquet Forestry Center when he requested to see our facilities and several research projects. We are in the initial stages of developing a request to fund improvements at both the Cloquet Forestry Center and Hubachek Wilderness Research Center on Fall Lake near Ely. The funding would be used to expand our teaching and research capabilities. Watch for additional information on these funding initiatives in future newsletters. Please do not hesitate to stop by Green Hall and say “hi” the next time you are around campus. The door is always open.