Spring 2020 Letter from the Department Head

Portrait of Mike Kilgore - Professor and Department Head of University of Minnesota's Department of Forest ResourcesWho would have predicted spring semester would end the way it did? It’s an experience that hopefully never repeats itself. As students were enjoying spring break in mid-March, Forest Resources instructors were quickly converting their courses from traditional classroom-based teaching to an online format. The transition was quick. In less than a week, University of Minnesota instruction was completely transformed to alternative delivery modes. This included converting our Advanced Field Session held at the Cloquet Forestry Center in late May to remote instruction. Additionally, all faculty and staff were told that for the foreseeable future, they would be working from home.

I can’t say enough about how proud I am of the way our faculty, staff, and students adapted to the new circumstances. We completed our spring semester courses with few issues. Now several months into this “new normal,” our work continues. Following social distancing guidelines, faculty who need to conduct field-based research have been permitted to do so, and campus labs are starting to open when the work can’t be done from home. We are also planning for fall semester, which will likely be a combination of in-class instruction for small and medium size courses and alternative delivery modes for our large enrollment courses.

This morning, I received an email from a parent of one of our Forestry students who graduated this spring. In it, she talks about her daughter’s experience in our program, especially during spring semester.

“She always felt so encouraged and supported. Even during the remote learning period at the end of the school year, you and your staff made yourselves available to the students for assistance. Everyone was very accommodating with her testing and assignments because our rural internet was so unreliable. It was really amazing!”

It’s feedback like this that reinforces my long-held belief that Forest Resources is, indeed, a special place.