Auburn University celebrating 75 years of forestry and wildlife sciences

AUBURN, Ala., Sept. 13, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — The Auburn University School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences is commemorating its 75th…

AUBURN, Ala., Sept. 13, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — The Auburn University School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences is commemorating its 75th anniversary with a yearlong anniversary celebration, which began in the spring of 2021.

«During its 75-year history, Auburn has produced thousands of well-qualified graduates, provided citizens with science-based knowledge to improve their quality of life and developed solutions to some of society’s most complex natural resource challenges,» said Dean Janaki Alavalapati.

«Our faculty, staff and alumni have many reasons to be proud of the school’s impactful legacy of advancing forestry, wildlife and natural resources that extends well beyond the borders of our state and region.»

Since the 1800s, Auburn’s forestry program has synonymously evolved with the country’s growth.

In response to the increased demand for trained professionals to manage forests and timber operations, the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Alabama, now Auburn University, began teaching forestry courses as early as 1896.

However, it wasn’t until 1946 that the College of Agriculture, at the time considered a school, recognized forestry as a standalone program in the Department of Horticulture and Forestry, and soon thereafter as the Department of Forestry in 1947.

With a greater need for a science-based foundation in forest management, the Department of Forestry continued to progress over the next three decades to become the School of Forestry in 1984.

In 1999, the school changed again by adding several wildlife faculty from the Department of Zoology and Entomology and became what is now the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences. With a steadily increasing number of faculty, staff and students, the school constructed the state-of-the-art Forestry and Wildlife Sciences Building in 2005.

Since that time, the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences has experienced substantial growth, not only in terms of the number of students, faculty and staff, but also in the diverse array of programs it has established to address the emerging needs of industry and government, including undergraduate majors such as geospatial and environmental informatics, natural resource management, sustainable biomaterials and packaging, and wildlife enterprise management.

The school has also expanded its online learning platforms to offer an online non-thesis Master of Natural Resources and Master of Forest Business and Investment degree, coupled with professional certification programs in Restoration Ecology, One Health and Forest Finance and Investment.

During the anniversary celebration year, the school is highlighting notable alumni and students with a series of virtual and in-person events, including a speaker series, graduate research symposium, awards banquet and other social events such as a homecoming tailgate, dean’s forum and alumni social.

The anniversary celebration will conclude with a signature gala in the spring of 2022.

Alavalapati said planning the yearlong celebration has been a considerable effort. «We are incredibly grateful to the committee members who have given their time to create a memorable year for the faculty, staff, students and alumni,» he said.

Faculty members Becky Barlow and Mark Smith serve as co-chairs of the anniversary planning committee, which includes alumni Glenn Glover ’73, faculty emeritus; William Green ’14, director of Alabama Treasure Forest Landowners Association; and Frank Walburn ’79, senior vice president, Regions Bank Natural Resources and Real Estate Division; and staff members Jamie Anderson, Heather Crozier, Paula Davis and Sue Robinson.

In addition to the celebration events, the school has marked the anniversary with the publication of «75 Years of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences at Auburn University,» a chronicle of Auburn’s forestry and wildlife programs, written by Auburn alumnus Arthur L. Slotkin ’68, author of eight books concerning the history of science and technology.

Visitors to the website,, can purchase the book online, learn more about the school’s history by perusing the interactive milestone timeline and photo archive, submit photos and other memorabilia and obtain more information about the anniversary celebration.

Auburn University is a nationally ranked land grant institution recognized for its commitment to world-class scholarship, interdisciplinary research with an elite, top-tier Carnegie R1 classification, life-changing outreach with Carnegie’s Community Engagement designation and an undergraduate education experience second to none. Auburn is home to more than 30,000 students, and its faculty and research partners collaborate to develop and deliver meaningful scholarship, science and technology-based advancements that meet pressing regional, national and global needs. Auburn’s commitment to active student engagement, professional success and public/private partnership drives a growing reputation for outreach and extension that delivers broad economic, health and societal impact.

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