THE University of Michigan was the first institution in the United States to give regular instruction in forestry. A few lectures on the subject had been offered previously at two or three eastern institutions, but these had not included it as an integral part of their curriculums. That it was made a part of the curriculum of the School of Political Science, organized in 1881, was due chiefly to Professor Volney Morgan Spalding ('73, Ph.D. Leipzig '94), who taught the first course. The description in the University Calendar for 1881-82 indicates that Professor Spalding, himself a botanist and therefore thoroughly cognizant of the need for placing forestry on a sound scientific foundation, also recognized its influence on the social and economic welfare of the country:
Forestry. Lectures on the following topics: 1. Historical: early laws and customs; schools of forestry and the forest service of Europe; position of the science in the United States. 2. Influence of Forests upon Human Affairs: the forest as a physical feature of the earth's surface; climatic and sanitary effects; products. 3. The Forest subject to Human Control: original distribution of forests and changes effected within historical times; preservation and renewal of forests; species for planting; methods of sylvi-culture; regions to be reforested; destructive agents and their control; due proportion of woodland; recent experiments and their results. 4. Forest Legislation: European forest law; existing laws of the United States; necessity of suitable legislation…
Professor Spalding, however, continued to be active in forestry affairs, both national and state, and wrote several well-known government forestry bulletins. Another advocate of the teaching of forestry in Michigan during this period was Mr. Charles W. Garfield, of Grand Rapids. In 1901, largely at the instigation of these two men, the Board of Regents voted to renew the work started twenty years before. Charles Albert Davis (Bowdoin '86, Ph.D. Michigan '05), was appointed special Instructor in Forestry, but actual instruction was not begun until the fall of 1902. In 1903 a separate Department of Forestry, offering instruction of professional caliber, was organized in the Department of Literature, Science, and the Arts under the leadership of Professor Filibert Roth ('90, LL.D. hon. Marquette '23), who had been one of Professor Spalding's students, and who was one of the few men in the country who could properly be classed as a technical forester.
The work was organized on a combined undergraduate and graduate basis. Students desiring professional training met the usual requirements for the degree of bachelor of arts, taking a number of forestry electives, and then, after a year's work in the Graduate School, qualified for the degree of master of science in forestry. The first class to receive this degree graduated in 1904 and consisted of two men, Harry D. Everett, who later lost his life while on active service in the Philippine Islands, and Clyde Leavitt, who became assistant dean of the New York State College of Forestry at Syracuse University. The number of students gradually increased, and by commencement of 1914 Page 1106sixteen men had received the degree of master of science in forestry.
The curriculum in 1903-4 consisted of ten courses of professional caliber and one course "designed to meet the needs of teachers, students of political economy, and others who wish to acquire a general knowledge of Forestry." Other courses, both of professional and nonprofessional character, were added as the profession of forestry developed. The staff, which in 1903 consisted of two men, Roth and Davis, increased, and appropriations, equipment, and other facilities for instruction were provided as the department grew. Roth proved to be one of the most capable, inspiring, and beloved teachers known to the forestry profession in America. Foresters from Michigan were conspicuous for the thoroughness of their professional training, their practical ability, enthusiasm, and their high ideals. This helped to gain for the University its position as one of the leading schools of forestry in the country.
An episode which occurred in 1912 showed both Professor Roth's hold on the students and the attitude of the University toward the Department of Forestry. In January of that year he submitted his resignation in order to become head of the newly established School of Forestry at Cornell University. The gloom caused by this announcement was a tribute to "the man who had come to be known affectionately to all his students as 'Daddy' Roth." There was much rejoicing a month later when his decision to remain at Michigan was announced, a change in plans resulting from the unqualified assurance by the Regents, not only of continued support, but of a marked expansion in the University's forestry activities.
In the fall of 1912 an important change in the curriculum was made, as a result of which it became possible for students to obtain the degree of bachelor of science in forestry at the end of a four-year prescribed program of study in forestry and prerequisite nonforestry studies. Fourteen graduates received the new degree in 1916. An additional year of graduate study leading to the degree of master of science in forestry continued to be offered, however, and those desiring full professional training were urged to take the five-year program. This arrangement, with occasional modifications in the specific requirements for degrees, has continued in effect.
In 1923 Professor Roth retired after twenty years of devoted and effective service. A penetrating analysis of the resulting situation was presented by President Burton in his annual report for 1923-24:
Instruction in Forestry. — The retirement of our much-beloved Professor Roth and the search for his successor have brought forward the whole question of forestry at the University and made it a problem of major dimensions. It has been the subject of frequent discussions… On the last of these occasions it was definitely decided to defer for another year the appointment of a chairman of the department… But important as may be the question of departmental organization, much larger issues are in the background, involving the whole future of forestry at the University of Michigan. Hitherto, forestry has been a comparatively small department in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, but it may justly be asked whether this relation should continue. It is at best little more than formal. The department has not many interests in common with the Literary College; its field is naturally well defined and marked off from others; its students and alumni recognize themselves as a separate group. In fairness it must be granted that the place of forestry is rather in the University, as an independent unit, than in any existing college of the University. Furthermore, any Page 1107consideration of this subject must take account of the fact that forestry is also taught by the Agricultural College at East Lansing. Our work must not duplicate theirs. It would seem to be our task to deal with forestry strictly as a University subject; not as an adjunct to agriculture, but as a career in itself. Our department should have in mind the larger services to the state and nation that forestry may contribute, and should give a course which will aim to create experts and investigators as well as recruits for the national forest service and private commercial organizations. In fine, we are at a point where a decision must be made for or against something far more ambitious than we have yet essayed, and providing for the program which a progressive policy would entail necessitates the provision of a very considerable sum of money, perhaps two millions of dollars, as a working basis. No decision has been reached on these important questions, and it is evident that much skillful planning will be called for before the way of the future is clear.
In the fall of 1926 the Regents decided to expand the work in forestry through the establishment of a separate unit to be known as the School of Forestry and Conservation. Samuel Trask Dana (Bowdoin '04, M. F. Yale '07, Sc.D. hon. Syracuse '28), who had had extensive experience in the United States Forest Service, was made Dean. Detailed plans were approved by the Regents in the spring of 1927. These provided that admission to the School should require two years of preliminary college work, and that the unit should "handle instruction, research, and cooperation with other institutions and organizations relating to the protection, production, management, utilization, and influence of forests and their resources," including tree products (such as wood, resins, and gums), forage, game, fish, and other forms of wild life, and also the influence of forests on climate, erosion, the water supply, recreation, health, and community development.
Attendance, which had dropped during the period of uncertainty as to the future of the department following Professor Roth's resignation, increased, particularly in the number of out-of-state students. Noteworthy was the growing enrollment in the Graduate School of candidates for the degree of doctor of philosophy with forestry and conservation as their field of specialization. In recent years candidates for the doctorate have specialized in such diverse fields as silvics, silviculture, forest mensuration, forest pathology, forest entomology, forest zoology, forest economics, and wood technology.
After the establishment of the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1933 and the expansion of governmental activity in the general field of conservation, popular interest in forestry increased. This was reflected by the number of students applying for admission not only at the University of Michigan but at other schools of forestry. Here attendance, which had doubled during the eight years since the establishment of the School, increased by about 50 percent in 1935-36 and again in 1936-37. In 1939-40 enrollment in the School totaled 187 full-time students. This overtaxed the facilities of the School and created a difficult employment situation, particularly in view of the retrenchment in governmental activity and the hesitation of private owners to embark on comprehensive forestry programs during the 1930's.
The extension activities of the School were largely in connection with the public school system. In 1927-28 Dean Dana reported to the President:
Effort is therefore being made … to impart some of the more essential information concerning forestry to the general public and more particularly to the school children of Page 1108the State, not as isolated facts but as an integral part of their regular studies. This work … has the enthusiastic approval of the public school authorities, and in the long run promises to prove particularly effective in bringing about a general understanding of the place of forestry and conservation in the development of the State.
The increased emphasis on both extension and research was recognized in 1930 by the establishment of definite bureaus in these fields. In 1932 the School initiated a series of Bulletins and in 1937 a separate series of Circulars.
As the University's interest in forestry and conservation has grown the School's physical facilities have increased. In 1904 Regent Hill made provision for a much needed field laboratory through the gift of the "Saginaw Forestry Farm" on West Liberty Street, an area familiar not only to foresters but to students and graduates in other fields. Other gifts of land include the Stinchfield Woods, near Dexter, and Ringwood, near St. Charles. The Eber White Woods, just outside Ann Arbor, was purchased by the Regents in 1915. The School supervises forestry activities on the 3,900-acre tract of the Biological Station in Cheboygan County and also administers the 3,035 acres on Sugar Island in Chippewa County which were presented to the University in 1929 by former Governor Chase S. Osborn. In addition to these properties, which represent a wide variety of forest conditions in different parts of the state, mention should be made of the excellent forestry library and of the mechanical and scientific equipment which is now available for instruction and research.
The School has been fortunate in receiving gifts of money as well as of land and equipment. The most important of these came in 1930, when Mr. Charles Lathrop Pack, of Lakewood, New Jersey, established the George Willis Pack Forestry Foundation of $200,000 for the promotion of forest land management. In his letter offering this gift to the Regents Mr. Pack stated:
This foundation is established in the University of Michigan on account of its prestige, its facilities for teaching … all phases of practical forestry, and its experienced staff; and on the definite assurance from the Board of Regents that the School of Forestry and Conservation has its hearty support and will continue to be developed as an outstanding institution as rapidly as the resources of the University permit.
(R.P., 1929-32, p. 161.)
Still further development along similar lines was made possible in 1936 by a three-year grant of $7,500 a year from the same trust for the establishment of the Charles Lathrop Pack Professorship of Wild Land Utilization. This grant, which was made through the interest of Captain Pack, made it possible for the School to participate more effectively than it could otherwise have done in the program of research in land utilization being developed in the University under the auspices of the Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies.
Page 1109Other financial contributions, chiefly for research, have been received from the Michigan Division of the Izaak Walton League of America, the American Game Association, the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers' Institute, the Michigan Department of Conservation, and the Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners. The contacts which the School has maintained have been helpful in bringing about a better understanding of the wild land problems of the state and in paving the way for common action in their solution.
The faculty of the School in 1940 consisted of Shirley W. Allen (Iowa State '09, M.F. ibid. '29), Professor of Forestry, Dow V. Baxter ('21, Ph.D. '24), Associate Professor of Silvics and Forest Pathology, Willard S. Bromley (B.S.F. Pennsylvania State '31, M.F. Yale '39), Assistant Professor of Wild Land Utilization, Robert Craig, Jr., (B.S. Alma College '08, M.S.F. Michigan '10), Associate Professor of Forest Utilization, Samuel A. Graham (Minnesota '14, Ph.D. ibid. '21, M.F. Cornell '16), Professor of Economic Zoology, William Kynoch (Toronto '14, F.E. ibid. '18), Professor of Wood Technology, Donald M. Matthews ('08, M.S.F. '09), Professor of Forest Management, Frank Murray (New York State Ranger School), Forest Manager, Earl C. O'Roke (Kansas '12, Ph.D. California '29), Associate Professor of Forest Zoology, Willett F. Ramsdell ('12, M.S.F. '14), George Willis Pack Professor of Forest Land Management, Howard M. Wight (Bates '15, M.S. Oregon State '17), Associate Professor of Forest Zoology, and Leigh J. Young ('09, M.S.F. '11), Professor of Silviculture.
Forestry in the United States achieved recognition as a definite profession at about the beginning of the present century. Since then it has expanded tremendously in scope and in personnel requirements. This evolution in the profession as a whole has been accompanied by a similar evolution at the University of Michigan, which, as occasion arose, has consistently strengthened and enlarged its forestry activities to meet the changing needs of the times. The success of this policy is indicated by the standing of its alumni, who occupy positions of leadership in every part of the country and in every branch of the profession. Practical recognition of the School's standing was afforded by the rating of 94.79 which it received in a study of professional forestry schools made in 1934 and 1935 by the Council of the Society of American Foresters and its designation by the Council as one of the four "distinguished" schools of forestry in the country.
The establishment of the present School of Forestry and Conservation was a logical, perhaps an inevitable, step forward in this evolution. Three features of its program are particularly worthy of note: the broad scope of the activities assigned to the School, comprising as they do the entire range of problems involved in the management of wild lands and their included waters; the emphasis on advanced work leading to the master's and the doctor's degrees; and the inclusion of research and extension, with instruction, as important lines of endeavor. The word "conservation" was added to the name of the School to call attention to its broad range of activities, and to its emphasis on the philosophy of conservation as a guiding principle in the development of the nation's resources. Perhaps one of the most marked features in the evolution of the School has been the flexibility of its program and its readiness to modify its program to meet changing conditions.