Jay Sullivan, professor of forestry economics and management, has been named interim head of Virginia Tech’s Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation.

“As a senior faculty member, Dr. Sullivan brings a wide knowledge of the department into his role as interim department head,” said Paul Winistorfer, dean of the College of Natural Resources and Environment.

“Jay has been actively engaged in our teaching, research, and outreach mission areas and recently was the principal author of the 10-year site visit accreditation report for the department,” Winistorfer continued. “He has a servant leadership commitment and that will serve us well in the interim.”

Sullivan earned a bachelor’s degree in forest management and a master’s degree in forest economics from Colorado State University. His doctoral work at the University of California, Berkeley focused on the economic impacts of forest and natural resources management and examined whether timber harvest policies in California national forests have cumulative impacts on local forest communities.

Sullivan came to Virginia Tech in 1988, strengthening the department’s specialization in forest resource management and economics.

His research activities encompass Virginia’s most compelling natural resources issues, including bioenergy, southern pine beetle treatment, mined lands, and sustainable carbon management. The recipient of a number of teaching awards, Sullivan currently teaches forest resource economics and management courses, a senior capstone course, and leads forest carbon inventory field labs.

“I continue to be in awe of how important forests are to our well-being economically, socially, and environmentally,” Sullivan said. “They are fragile, yet renewable and robust.”

In the interim department head role, Sullivan says he intends to continue to build on the strong foundation established by his predecessor, Janaki Alavalapati, who is now dean of the School of Forestry and Wildlife Science at Auburn University.

“During this interim period, I hope to guide us in continuing to serve our students, the commonwealth, and our clientele through our strong leadership role in matters of forestry and the environment,” Sullivan said.

The college will launch an international search for its next department head in early fall. “The department is considered one of the leading academic forestry programs in the world, and identifying talent to lead us into the future is very important,” Winistorfer said.

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