To the SEFS community:

A warm welcome back to autumn term on a cool, fall day! As we gather back in Seattle for a new academic year, I’m heartened by all the great stories of your research and learning adventures over the summer. Well done, SEFS! Keep the tweets and messages about your great work coming.

You might notice a few changes in our three main buildings, as we work to freshen up the look by replacing some of the signage, imagery, and furniture around the buildings. Thanks much to Molly Hottle, KC Deterling, and Jill Christensen for leading the effort to implement most of these changes. The work on this project, as well as on setting up a technology enabled meeting room in each of Anderson, Bloedel, and Winkenwerder (thanks to Greg Olsen’s efforts), is on-going as we work on scheduling the various steps. One thing we ask of everyone is to post materials only on the bulletin boards that we will be installing around the buildings, to keep the walls clean.

Our faculty retreat this year underscored the importance in SEFS of our interdisciplinary strengths, our commitment to diverse, equitable, and inclusive programs, and our engaged and immersive research and learning. Our ability to come together across disciplinary lines to address pressing environmental challenges was on full display in our carbon workshops this year, led by Greg Ettl, and in which many of us participated. I look forward to working together to move this conversation forward, and I hope and expect that this won’t be the last opportunity we have to draw our strengths together to engage important challenges.

The SEFS faculty adopted this statement of commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion at the end of last year, and we are working this year to realize these commitments. From faculty mentoring processes and guidelines for promotion and tenure to discussions about holistic admissions and hiring processes to our various efforts at tribal engagement, this work will involve all of us. I’m thankful to Brian Harvey and Sarah Converse for stepping forward this year to lead the SEFS Diversity Committee, and to Stanley Asah for agreeing to serve as an special adviser on these topics to the administrative team.

One of our key points of engagement with the broader community is through our facilities at the UW Botanic Garden, Pack Forest, and ONRC. Over the summer we reappointed Bernard Bormann as director of Olympic Natural Resources Center (ONRC) and made some progress on the leadership planning at UWBG. I’m pleased that Fred Hoyt has agreed to serve as director of the University of Washington Botanic Gardens (UWBG) (previously he was interim director) and now holds the Soest Chair for Urban Horticulture. He and I have been engaged in productive conversations with the board of the Arboretum Foundation, and are finalizing an agreement with them to appoint a task force to evaluate the organizational framework, financial structures, and operational workflows of the UWBG and AF to identify opportunities for improved efficiencies and effectiveness. We expect to receive recommendations and make decisions about any implications they may have for future UWBG leadership next summer.

In terms of other transitions, we bid farewell to Dorothy Paun and Charlie Halpern, both of whom are retiring this year, and to Fernando Resende, who has taken on the position of department chair in chemical engineering at the University of Texas in Tyler. We wish them all well in their next adventures. We welcome back to the faculty Caren Crandell, who has done an excellent job teaching some of our restoration and environmental horticulture courses, and welcome Kaeli Swift as a temporary lecturer who will be teaching ornithology and wildlife courses for us.

Thanks to all of you for your commitment to the important work we do together. Keep the good ideas coming for how to make this an even better place, and keep track of SEFS happenings on our website and on Facebook and Twitter. Finally, join us for the SEFS Salmon Barbecue on Thursday Oct. 3, 4-6 p.m. in the Anderson Hall courtyard.

Dan Brown

Corkery Family Director’s Chair and Professor
School of Environmental and Forest Sciences
College of the Environment
University of Washington