UTIA Establishes New School of Natural Resources

It’s official! As of Jan. 1, the Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries (FWF) will be named the School of Natural Resources. Originally established in 1964 as the Department of Forestry, then later renamed and expanded in 1977, the new school offers Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in forestry or wildlife and fisheries and a doctoral degree in natural resources.

Current enrollment is 363 students, 316 of whom are undergraduates. The faculty includes 30 scientists spread across multiple disciplines, with more expected to be added soon. Carrie Castille, UTIA senior vice chancellor and senior vice president, says FWF Professor and Department Head Don Hodges has been named director of the new school, which is among the most comprehensive interdisciplinary programs in the country. Hodges says the UTIA School of Natural Resources will offer programs unique to a region in which the forest industry is dominated by hardwoods rather than pine.

Empowering Climate- Smart Agriculture

Grasslands are the largest agricultural land use in the U.S. and agriculture’s largest and most effective carbon-storage system. As farmers look to improve productivity amid a changing climate, UTIA has received a $30 million grant to help grassland farmers enter the emerging carbon economy while enhancing productivity and optimizing profitability, soil health and biodiversity.

Funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, this is one of 70 projects under the first pool of Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities.

Native grasslands will be the subject of a $30 million study to help farmers enter the emerging carbon economy.Photo Courtesy UTIA
Native grasslands will be the subject of a $30 million study to help farmers enter the emerging carbon economy.Photo Courtesy UTIA

Pat Keyser, professor and director of UTIA’s Center for Native Grasslands Management, is leading a team of research and Extension professionals, as well as a partnership of 28 entities across the eastern U.S., to collaborate with 245 working farms. The project will test grassland management strategies, validate their carbon and greenhouse gas benefits, and be a platform for outreach programs.

A Fond Farewell

Caula Beyl
Caula Beyl

The Herbert College of Agriculture welcomed David White, professor of food science and associate dean of UT AgResearch, as the college’s new interim dean as UTIA bade farewell to retiring Dean Caula Beyl. Upon her appointment in 2007, Beyl became one of the first women to lead a land-grant college of agriculture.

Impacts she achieved during her 15-year tenure include doubling Herbert’s undergraduate enrollment, greatly increasing the rate of study-abroad opportunities, growing scholarships to just under $1 million, enhancing the college’s Living Learning Community, achieving the second-highest teaching efficiency of all colleges at UT Knoxville, and leading the university in experiential learning and assessment.

In 2018, her work contributed to Herbert becoming the second land-grant college of agriculture in the country to be named in honor of a philanthropic gift, made by Jim and Judi Herbert (Knoxville ’62, and Knoxville ’63, respectively).