Dean's Message

from Dean Jeff Vincent


December 6, 2017

As one of the world’s leading institutions for environmental research and education, the Nicholas School has nearly 70 regular-rank faculty members whose expertise spans 17 focal areas. We offer six doctoral degree programs, eight Master of Environmental Management concentrations, a Master of Forestry, two undergraduate majors, an undergraduate concentration and three undergraduate certificates.

This month, I’d like to update you on some recent developments to our Master of Forestry (MF) program.

  • We matriculated 7 new MF students this fall, and several new MEM students have indicated that they plan to add the MF as a second degree. This will give us a slightly larger MF cohort than our recent average.
  • Our most recent survey of recent MF graduates found that 100% of our grads found employment within 6 months of graduation. It also found that MF grads command  healthy salaries, evidence of the market value of the degree. Our grads during the past 5 years have taken jobs in 21 states in all regions of the U.S., and they are doing great work for a wide range of organizations. Examples of their employers include Enviva, Weyerhaeuser, MetLife, American Forest Management, American Tree Farm System, Blue Source, The Conservation Fund, The Forest Trust, U.S. Forest Service, and the Duke Forest (one of the MF program’s greatest assets).
  • A highlight of every fall in the Nicholas School is the symposium organized by our student chapter of the Society of American Foresters (SAF). The topic this year, “Forests on the Edge: Exploring the Tensions between Forests and Urban Development,” featured talks by several of our alums. My thanks to them for participating, and kudos to the students for a great job organizing the symposium.
  • At the beginning of this month, I had the honor of hosting a well-attended alumni reception at the SAF Convention in Albuquerque. I enjoyed meeting the alums who attended and introducing them to the strong contingent of our MF students who made the trip to Albuquerque.
  • My duties as interim dean have not kept me out of the classroom. This fall, I had the special pleasure of teaching my forestry issues course, “Forests in the Public Interest,” in collaboration with MF/MEM ’94 Robert Bonnie, the top natural resources official at USDA during the Obama administration. Robert is a Rubenstein Fellow at Duke this year and next. I look forward to teaching with him again next year.
  • Back in September, I gave a public lecture titled “Imagine a World with Too Much Wood” in our “Mega-Trends” course. The lecture gave me an opportunity to inform the Nicholas School community about a success story unknown to most non-foresters: the annual amount of wood grown in the world is in balance with the annual amount that is harvested. I can’t think of another natural resource sector that can boast a similarly successful transition to sustainable production. This success is due to the science of forestry—the original natural resources profession, with its U.S. birthplace being in North Carolina—and the foresters who practice it. Our planet would not be nearly as green were it not for these men and women, who have made working forests an increasingly valuable source of wood products and other important goods and services. Without their efforts, much more forestland would be lost to agriculture, subdivisions, and other competing land uses.
  • A few years ago, alums in the timberland investment sector brought to our attention the need for young professionals who combine forestry skills with finance skills. Advised by our alums, we launched an effort to raise the funds needed to hire a faculty member to develop a program to train such professionals. This fall, thanks to a matching grant from the Richard Reynolds Foundation and the generosity of our alums, we raised sufficient funds to create a new, 3-year faculty position in natural resources finance. We look forward to hiring an experienced practitioner to launch the program next fall.


about Jeff Vincent

Jeff Vincent is the Stanback Dean, Clarence F. Korstian Professor of Forest Economics and Management, and Co-Chair of the Master of Forestry (MF) Program in the Nicholas School.

Jeff’s research focuses on the economics of natural resource management and policy in developing countries, with a primary focus on forestry issues in Asia. Currently, his main project is a 3-year NASA-funded project on mangrove conservation in South Asia, which he is implementing with a multidisciplinary group of colleagues at Duke and in South Asia. He has related work on mangroves underway in the Philippines and Thailand. Much of his work focuses on the valuation of ecosystem services of tropical forests. He also dedicates much time to capacity-building programs aimed at young environmental economists in developing countries around the world.

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