CORVALLIS - George Brown, dean of the College of Forestry at Oregon State University for the last nine years, told his faculty this week that he will retire in September of 1999.
Brown, who has been a faculty member or administrator at OSU for 32 years, said his retirement decision was spurred by the coming together of a number of "personal and institutional milestones."
"I came here in 1964 as a graduate student and I've spent more than half of my life at Oregon State," Brown said. "At many universities, they don't allow a dean to stay more than 10 years. I've come to believe that periodic change in leadership is a n invigorating thing for an institution."
Brown will leave OSU at a time when the College of Forestry is as strong as it has ever been.
Construction of a new $24 million forest research laboratory is more than halfway completed and will open next spring, allowing OSU to expand its teaching and research capabilities. The college has built an endowment of more than $50 million, spurred by a gift of forest land from the estate of Kay Richardson that generated $23.8 million - by far the largest gift in the history of the university. And the college just filled its first endowed chair, and will have three more by the time Brown steps down.
OSU's College of Forestry is ranked as one of the top-tier forestry programs in the nation and is first in the number of grants and contracts it receives, Brown said.
"What this says is that the people in the college are really the best," Brown said. "We have an outstanding group of faculty who are not only excellent in teaching and research, they are involved in the policy issues of the time. They are frequently called upon by the governor, the legislature, Congress and even the White House to provide input on natural resource issues.
"This is not an ivory tower forestry school," Brown added with a laugh. "Oregon is a bubbling, seething cauldron of difficult, even wicked forestry policy questions. And our faculty have played a prominent role while staying away from advocacy, which is rule number one."
Issues ranging from watershed enhancement for salmon to the potential effects of clear-cutting on landslides have kept Brown and the college in the spotlight during the last decade.
"Those issues will only intensify as the population grows and urbanizes," he added.
OSU President Paul Risser acknowledged the job Brown has done since he took over as dean of the college in 1990. "It will be hard to imagine a College of Forestry at OSU without George Brown. He has done a truly outstanding job of providing leadership to the state and the nation during an era when natural resource issues have been controversial and critical to the success of the Northwest economy and livability."