Brief History of the Department of Forestry and Natural Resources at the University of Kentucky

The seeds of Kentucky’s Forestry and Natural Resources Department were initially sown in 1923 on a 15,000 acre tract of forest occupying portions of Knott, Breathitt, and Perry Counties donated to the University of Kentucky by Cincinnati businessman E.O. Robinson. Eventually becoming the E.O. Robinson Foundation Trust, this gift was provided for the purposes of agricultural experiments, teaching, and the demonstration of reforestation in the Central Appalachian Region.

The ensuing years witnessed a great deal of activity at Robinson Forest and in 1963 a thriving and growing forest and wood products industry encouraged the establishment of a Forest and Wood Technician School in nearby Quicksand, KY - this program trained hundreds of forest technicians and sawmill operators.

Eventually, the need for professional foresters who could help responsibly and sustainably manage the region’s timber and other natural resources led to the creation of the Department of Forestry at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, KY. Several of the department’s first graduates in 1971 began their education at the Forest and Wood Technician School in Quicksand. Since the 1971 graduating class, the Department of Forestry has graduated approximately 800 students who currently reside in over 30 states across the country. In 2017, the Department of Forestry changed its name to the Department of Forestry and Natural Resources.

Our graduates work in all aspects of forestry and natural resource management in a wide range of disciplines and professional pursuits. It is important to note that Kentucky’s undergraduate forestry program has maintained Society of American Foresters accreditation since 1974. In addition, the department has maintained a Student Chapter of the Society of American Foresters (affectionately called the Forestry Club by its members) since January 19, 1973.

The Department of Forestry and Natural Resources has also been a leading contributor to the interdisciplinary Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences (NRES) major for many years, having been foundational in beginning the program for the College of Agriculture back in 1991. Our faculty not only teach many of the classes in this program, but also continue serve in the key leadership positions.

The faculty composition in the Department of Forestry and Natural Resources has evolved with the many changes observed in forest industry and natural resource management professions over the last several decades. Please see below for a listing of faculty in the department since 1970.


Department Chairs
Dr Tom Hansbrough 1970 – 1976
Dr. George Coltharp (interim) 1976
Dr. Bart Thielges 1976 - 1990
Dr. Robert Muller 1990 - 1997
Dr. Don Graves 1997 - 2004
Dr. Steve Bullard 2004 - 2009
Dr. Michael Lacki (interim) 2009 - 2010
Dr. Terrell T. “Red” Baker 2010 - 2017
Dr. Jeff Stringer (interim) 2017 - present


Forest Physiology and Ecology
Dr. Stan Carpenter
Dr. Bill Carlton
Dr. Tom Kimmerer


Forest Ecology
Dr. Bob Muller
Dr. Mary Arthur


Silviculture
Dr. Ed White
Dr. Bob Wittwer
Dr. Paul Kalisz
Dr. John Lhotka


Watershed Hydrology
Dr. Don Hook
Dr. George Coltharp
Dr. Randy Kolka
Dr. Chris Barton


Wood Technology
Dr. R.C. Tang
Dr. Jim Olson
Dr. Jan Wiedenbeck


Aerial Photography and Remote Sensing
Dr. Don Graves


Mensuration
Dr. O.M. Davenport
Dr. Calvin Liu
Dr. Songlin Fei


Forest Recreation and Fire Control
Dr. Leroy Shilling
Dr. Dave Erikson
Dr. Allen Worms


Wildlife Management
Dr. Randy Heiligman
Dr. Bob Rumsey
Dr. Bill McComb
Dr. Mike Lacki


Forest Harvesting and Sawmilling
Dr. Boyd Richards


Forest Pathology
Louis Shain (joint with Plant Pathology)


Forest Entomology
Dr. Jerry Nordine (joint with Department of Entomology)
Dr. Lynne Rieske-Kinney (joint with Department of Entomology)


Forest Economics
Dr. John Redman (joint with Department of Agricultural Economics)
Dr. Marcella Syzmanski
Dr. Jim Ringe


Forest History and Policy
Robert Collins (retired DBNF supervisor)
Dr. Jeff Edgens
Dr. Andrew Stainback


Forest Management
Dr. Don Graves (also Surface Mine Reclamation Specialist 1978)
Dr. Joe Chang
Dr. Matthew Pelkki
Dr. Tamara Cushing
Dr. Marco Contreras


Forest Landscape Ecology
Dr. Chuck Rhoads (Forest Restoration Ecology)
Dr. Jian Yang


Conservation Biology
Dr. Dave Maehr
Dr. John Cox


Forest Genetics
Dr. Dave Wagner


Stream and Riparian Ecology
Dr. Steven Price


Forestry Extension Positions


Extension Forester
James A. Newman
Dr. Don Fogus
Dr. Jeff Stringer (Hardwood Silviculture)


Youth and Alternative Forest Products
Dr. Deborah Hill


Wildlife Management
Dr. Craig Heugel
Dr. Fred Servello
Dr. Thomas Barnes
Dr. Matthew Springer


Wood Utilization
Dr. John Shelly
Dr. James Reeb
Dr. Terry Conners


Forest Engineering
Dr. Matthew Smidt


Forest Recreation
Dr. Allen Worms