School of Natural Resources and Environment (University of Michigan) Records and Publications

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School of Natural Resources and Environment (University of Michigan) Records and Publications

This Deep Blue collection represents part of a larger record group for the University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment held by the Bentley Historical Library. For a more complete index, please consult the following online finding aids:

Researchers may also be interested in materials in the University of Michigan Web Archives:

For additional assistance, contact Reference and Access Services at the Bentley Historical Library.

Academic unit of the University of Michigan established in 1903 as the Department of Forestry. Records in the digital repository include archived versions of the School of Natural Resources and Environment homepage.

The School of Natural Resources and Environment (SNRE) was established in 1927, but forestry courses had been offered at the University of Michigan as early as 1881. It was the first university in the United States to offer regular course work in forestry. The first forestry course was given in 1881 by Professor Morgan Volney Spalding in the School of Political Science. This forestry offering lapsed after four years, however.

In 1901, at the instigation of Spalding and Charles W. Garfield of Grand Rapids, the Board of Regents voted to renew the forestry program. Charles Albert Davis was appointed special instructor in forestry and courses were offered in 1902. The following year a separate Forestry Department, headed by Filibert Roth, was created in the College of Literature, Science and the Arts (LS&A). The department offered a combined undergraduate and graduate program that included four years of the usual course work for the B.A. with forestry electives, and one year of graduate study.

Under Roth’s direction the curriculum and the faculty expanded to keep pace with developments in the forestry profession. The University of Michigan became one of the best known forestry schools. Professor Roth retired in 1923. The naming of a successor was delayed as University President Burton used the occasion of Roth’s retirement to undertake a reevaluation of the forestry program.

In 1926 the Regents voted approval for an expanded forestry program. This led to the creation of an independent School of Forestry and Conservation in 1927. Samuel Trask Dana was named the school’s first dean. Dana immediately began to recruit new faculty and develop a more comprehensive curriculum. Enrollment, which had declined due to the uncertainty following Roth’s retirement and the impact of the depression, began to grow steadily after 1931. Spurred by the work of the Civilian Conservation Corps and other government conservation activity, enrollment reached 187 full-time students in 1939/40. With the onset of World War II, the number of students dropped precipitously only to be followed by a postwar boom in enrollment.

In 1949 a committee of four noted conservationists was engaged to consider a reorganization of the school in light of developments in the forestry and conservation professions. The committee report was received favorably, but Dean Dana had prepared his own more sweeping proposal for reorganization. His plan called for creation of an expanded School of Natural Resources which would offer degrees in regional planning and general conservation in addition to the traditional training programs in forestry, wood technology, wildlife management, and fisheries management.

The School of Natural Resources originally had been organized into five departments: Forestry, Wood Technology, Fisheries Management, Wildlife Management, and Conservation. The first three departments were carried over from the old Department of Forestry. Fisheries Management had been located in the Zoology Department of LS&A. As its work had become more applied, it was deemed appropriate to shift the fisheries program to the School of Natural Resources.

The Conservation Department developed from a $100,000 grant from the Charles Lathrop Pack Foundation for the purpose of training students in the entire field of conservation. Noted ecologist Stanley A. Cain was named the first Pack Professor of Conservation in 1950. The Conservation Department offered a number of interdisciplinary programs including natural resources economics with the Economics Department and environmental planning and water resources with the School of Public Health. By the mid-1960s conservation had become the largest SNR department. To better reflect its expanded curriculum, the Conservation Department’s name was changed to Resource Planning and Conservation in 1969.

While the Conservation Department was growing, other departments experienced little or no growth, prompting some significant reorganization of the school. The Wood Technology Department was phased out in 1964 and its faculty transferred to Forestry. In 1965 the Fisheries and Wildlife Management Departments were administratively combined but separate curriculums were maintained.

Also in 1965, SNR acquired a new department with the transfer of Landscape Architecture from the College of Architecture and Design. During this period SNR instituted a naturalist curriculum and expanded its offerings in forest recreation. The latter development resulted in the endowing of the Samuel T. Dana Professorship of Outdoor Recreation.

The School of Natural Resources has also been host to several interdepartmental projects. These include the Remote Sensing of the Environment Program, the Environmental Simulation Laboratory, and the Sea Grant Program.

In 1970 the university undertook a broad review of its programs relating to environmental education and the management and development of natural resources. A university-wide committee headed by Vice President Stephen Spurr recommended that the university establish a College of Environmental Studies of which SNR would be a part. The College of Environmental Studies was not established but SNR did revise its structure and curriculum along the lines recommended by the Spurr committee. The existing SNR departments were abolished and programs were to be offered in six areas: Systems Management; Fisheries, Forestry, and Wildlife; Resource Ecology; Resource Policy and Administration; Environmental Education; and Landscape Architecture.

Over the years SNR has acquired or managed several forest properties for educational and scientific purposes. These have included the Eberwhite Woods in west Ann Arbor, the Saginaw Forest property further west of Ann Arbor on Liberty Road, the Stinchfield Woods property near Dexter, the Ringwood tract near Saginaw, and Camp Filibert Roth in Iron County.

As noted above, Samuel Trask Dana was named the first dean of SNR in 1927. He guided the school for twenty-three years until his retirement in 1950. He remained an active presence in the school as emeritus dean. Dana selected his own successor, Stanley G. Fontanna. Formerly deputy director of the State of Michigan Department of Conservation, Fontanna held the deanship from 1951 to 1962. He was succeeded by Stephen H. Spurr, professor of silviculture. Spurr served through 1965 when he was appointed dean of the university’s Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies.

Kenneth P. Davis, professor of forest management, was appointed interim dean for 1965/66. Dr. Keith Arnold of the U.S. Forest Service served as dean for three years, 1967-1969. Arnold was succeeded by James T. McFadden, chairman of the school’s Department of Fisheries and Wildlife Management. McFadden was the first non-forester to be named dean and served as dean until 1974.

William J. Johnson, chairman of the school’s Landscape Architecture program, was selected to succeed McFadden. When Johnson stepped down as dean in 1983 to return to academics, he was succeeded by James E. Crowfoot. Confronted with budget reductions and a review by the University of Michigan, Crowfoot provided SNR with the necessary leadership during an intense period of scrutiny. Crowfoot stepped down as dean in December 1990 to chair the Resource, Policy and Behavior concentration and left the University of Michigan in 1994 to assume the presidency of Antioch College. In addition to his decanal responsibilities, Crowfoot was cofounder of the Program in Conflict Management Alternatives. An advocate of the democratic management of organizations, he developed a new curriculum emphasis in environmental dispute resolution.

Following Crowfoot’s resignation Harrison Morton was appointed interim dean of the school until the appointment of Garry D. Brewer in 1992. Among Brewer’s first achievements was implementing a name change for the School of Natural Resources. During the July 1992 meeting the University of Michigan Board of Regents approved a name change to the School of Natural Resources and Environment (SNRE). The name change was designed to reflect the expanding scope of the school. Brewer left the deanship in 1995 and Paul Webb was appointed interim dean. Daniel A. Mazmanian, was appointed dean in June 1996, serving through 2000. Barry Rabe served as interim dean from 2000 to 2001, when Rosina M. Bierbaum was appointed dean. From 1998 through 2003, the Dana building underwent a series of renovations leading to a Gold Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating from the US Green Building Council in 2004. SNRE celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2003. Bierbaum’s tenure as dean lasted until 2011. She was succeeded by Marie Lynn Miranda, who assumed the deanship January 1, 2012.

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