CORVALLIS – Richard Strachan, an alumnus of the Oregon State University College of Forestry, has donated $3.6 million to endow a faculty position that will support forest management research and a new OSU undergraduate degree that blends forestry, new technology, business and entrepreneurship.
The Richard Strachan Chair in Forest Operations Management will provide knowledge and supply graduates that will help the Pacific Northwest forest sector compete effectively in the international marketplace and help maintain forestland profitability. The chair holder’s research will complement a recently approved forest operations management degree, which includes a minor from the College of Business.
This new professional Bachelor of Science program is unique in Oregon, experts say. Both the chair and the degree program will reside in the Department of Forest Engineering, one of OSU’s most internationally-respected units.
Establishment of the chair and the new degree is timely as the forestry sector responds to increasing global competition with new approaches to managing forest operations in Oregon and the rest of the United States, noted Steve Tesch, head of the Department of Forest Engineering.
“Domestically, the forest industry is actively consolidating,” Tesch said. “Many companies are either reconfiguring their business, or selling their forest assets to investment management organizations and developers. The Strachan Chair will develop innovative systems that help maximize the economic value from forest operations.
“Forests that generate sufficient value in the eyes of the owner contribute to local economies, provide employment and discourage conversion to alternative land uses that provide fewer environmental services,” Tesch added.
Strachan, who lives in the San Juan Islands of Washington, is the director of Miami Corporation. He graduated from OSU with a forest management degree in 1978.
“My hope is that the occupant of the chair will make steady contributions to professional and technical knowledge that benefit the state and the forest products industry, and are well-received by his or her peers,” Strachan said.
“This gift is a challenge to my peers to do more and better things for the college that is so important to us, the state and the nation,” Strachan added.
Hal Salwasser, dean of the College of Forestry, noted that Strachan’s gift represents “a tremendous vote of confidence” in the college. “The Strachan Chair will infuse our new degree program with high energy,” Salwasser said. “It demonstrates that the college is taking major strides forward in its pursuit of excellence.”
Strachan said he made this gift as a public statement of support for the College of Forestry, faculty and Salwasser. Over the last 25 years Strachan has spearheaded a series of major gifts to the College of Forestry, including the Lee Harris Memorial Forest Management Fund, the Larry Hoffman Scholarship in Wildfire and Ecosystem Health, and the Richard Strachan Forest Engineering Graduate Fellowship.