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Forging a Path for Junior Faculty in Forestry

“I have a real attachment to this unit and the people in it."

Don Dickmann

Forging a Path for Junior Faculty in Forestry

“I have a real attachment to this unit and the people in it."

Emeritus Professor Don Dickmann worked for over 40 years in the Michigan State University Forestry Department before retiring – not once, but twice – and even then, it didn’t quite stick.

He continued to teach part-time, served on graduate committees, and even acted as Chairperson in 2010-11. “That’s a good way to do it,” Dickmann says, “not just walk out the door and never look back. I couldn’t do it that way. I have a real attachment to this unit and the people in it.”

Now, he’s found another way to give back: by creating the Donald Dickman Junior Faculty Support Fund, to help junior non-tenure faculty members in the Forestry Department.

Over time, circumstances have changed for junior non-tenure faculty members, and it can be a struggle to participate in professional meetings when travel and fees are involved. It can also be challenging to find funding for research. Dickmann’s gift would enable these early-career faculty members to build connections, share their work, and, most importantly, explore research opportunities without having to worry about the cost.

 

Of course, forestry involves field work. You have to travel to research sites and that can be any place in the state, country, or world, and you need money to get there and support yourself while you’re there.

 

“Don’s characteristic generosity and insight are reflected in this gift,” says Richard Kobe, Professor and Chairperson of the Forestry Department. “Throughout his career, Don has been tremendously generous with his time in discussing ideas, mentoring early career faculty and graduate students, and in offering guest lectures. He has been a fantastic community member. And he also perceives how pilot funding can propel an early career scientist along a promising research and professional trajectory.”

In addition to his vibrant research program, Dickmann taught many courses over his career, most notably silviculture, which he taught every year he was at the university. He was also instrumental in the creation of the forestry spring camp experience. The year 1978 marked the first time the camp was offered off campus, and Dickmann recalls spring camp experiences as some of the best parts of his career.

For many years, he also taught the Michigan’s Forests course, which he developed with fellow emeritus faculty member Larry Leefers. The course is very popular across a variety of majors and still taught at the university today. The fundamental development of material for this course led to the renowned book The Forests of Michigan, which he co-wrote with Leefers.

Dickmann has left quite an impression on the many students he has taught over the years, and he says it’s always a pleasure to hear from his former students and to learn how their careers have progressed. “I love it when I get those messages. When I hear from a student, it’s the highlight of my day.”

LEARN MORE about supporting the Donald Dickman Junior Faculty Support Fund, or the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, by contacting Carrie Horstman at greenca5@msu.edu, or by calling 517-353-7075.