Established in 1907 as one of the oldest units on the University of Washington campus and one of the original natural resource programs in the country, the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences provides world-class, internationally-recognized knowledge and leadership for environmental and natural resource issues.

Here’s a snapshot of the history of Environmental and Forest Sciences at the University of Washington.


Before the School of Environmental and Forest Services was established at the University of Washington, general forestry was taught at the university in 1897 within the Department of Natural Sciences.

Xi Sigma Pi

Ten years later, in 1907, Environmental and Forest Services was officially established as the University of Washington’s School of Forestry. Its first biennial budget totaled $650, and it recorded an enrollment of 10 students. In 1908, several groups within the School of Forestry were established, including the alpha chapter of Xi Sigma Pi, a national honorary forestry fraternity, and the Forest Club, an organization to promote interest in forestry at the university and across the Pacific Northwest. In this same year, the master of science degree in forestry was established.

Hugo Winkenwerder

The first master’s degree was awarded in 1909 to Alexander Grant Jackson. The School of Forestry became the College of
Forestry in 1910. Hugo Winkenwerder was named dean of the College of Forestry in 1912 and remained in the position until 1945.

The first forestry degree granted to a woman was awarded to Estrella Dodge in 1924. In that same year, Charles Lathrop Pack acquired the 160-acre, currently 4,380 acres, demonstration forest for the College of Forestry. Today, this forest is called the Charles Lathrop Pack Experimental Forest. The Charles Lathrop Pack Endowed Prize, an annual award for best essay written by a forestry student for a nontechnical audience, was also established.

In 1925, the Alfred H. Anderson Hall completed construction on the university’s campus. The building was a gift from Agnes H. Anderson in honor of her late husband. Enrollment reached 176 students.


Charles L. Pack

The Lee Memorial Forest, in 1933, was donated by heirs of Mr. and Mrs. O.H. Lee, was accepted by the university regents for use as a field laboratory. This was also the year that doctorate of philosophy students were first accepted into the College of Forestry. Dwight Jeffers, from 1933 until 1935, served as acting dean while Dean Hugo Winkenwerder served as acting president of the university.

Two years later, in 1935, the university and city of Seattle entered into an agreement to establish the Washington Park Arboretum. At this same time, the College of Forestry was rated one of eight Class-A forestry schools in the nation by Chapman’s Professional Forestry School Report. In 1936, the first doctorate degree in forestry was awarded to Alan J. Bailey for research on lignin and cellulose. Enrollment reached 480 students. In 1939, John Hanley was appointed as the first, full-time director of the Washington Park Arboretum while his staff grows 30,000 plants used for wartime camouflage efforts.

Gordon Marckworth in 1945 took over as dean of the College of Forestry until 1964. In 1963, the Hugo Winkenwerder Forest Sciences Laboratory building was completed on the university’s campus. In 1964, James Bethel becomes the first alumnus to serve as dean of the College. He remained in that position until 1981.

The name of the college changed again in 1967 when the College of Forestry became the College of Forest Resources.One year later, Washington Pulp and Paper Foundation, as well as the Center for Quantitative Science in Fisheries, Forestry & Wildlife, were both formed at the university.

In 1970, the National Park Service established Cooperative Park Studies Unit in the College of Forest Resources, the first such university-based research unit. In 1971, Bloedel Hall was constructed on the university campus. By 1975, enrollment reached 883 students. The Center for Urban Horticulture was established in 1980. David Thorud became dean in 1981, a position he held through 2000. In 1982, research funding at the College of Forest Resources reached over $2.3 million. The Center for International Trade in Forest Products (CINTRAFOR) was established by the Washington State Legislature in 1985.

By 1993, research funding reached higher than $8.9 million. Two years later, in 1995, the Olympic Natural Resources Center facilities was established and dedicated in Forks, Wash. The Precision Forestry Cooperative was created in 1999 through the Advanced Technology Initiative, funded by the Washington State Legislature.

Recent Developments

In 2000, the College of Forest Resources’ endowment level reached $16 million, a fourfold increase in the number of endowments. The same year, Kristiina Vogt became dean of the college for one year.

LIDAR technology used within the Precision Forest Cooperative

B. Bruce Bare took over as dean in 2002, serving until 2009.  In 2004, the Center for Sustainable Forestry at Pack Forest was created on the land acquired in 1924 by Charles L. Pack. The UW Botanic Gardens in 2005 became umbrella organization for Center for Urban Horticulture and Washington Park Arboretum.

In 2007, the College of Forest Resources received national recognition by the Faculty Scholarly Productivity Index  for being the second in the country for scholarly output. The college also reached its $17.7 million fundraising goal that year.

Two years later, in 2009, the College of Forest Resources became the School of Forest Resources, establishing itself as a founding unit within the University of Washington’s new College of the Environment. Tom Hinckley was, at this time, appointed as interim director.

In 2010, the School of Forest Resources’ forest science programs were rated by the National Research Council to be among the top three in the U.S. On Jan. 1, 2012, the School of Forest Resources became the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences (SEFS) under the university’s College of the Environment. Professor Thomas H. DeLuca became the director of the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences the same year.

In 2018, Dan Brown became the director of the school.

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