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Grace Appointed Penn State Goddard Chair in Forest Resources

Dr. James R. “Jim” Grace, deputy secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (PA DCNR), has been selected as the new Maurice K. Goddard Chair in Forestry and Environmental Resource Conservation.  He began his three-year term on August 23, 2010.

The Goddard Chair is a faculty position unlike any other at Penn State, with a focus on providing leadership on public policy issues.  Those chosen to fill it need not have extensive academic or research experience.  The Chair holder is expected to spend half of his or her time on public outreach, a third on teaching, and the remainder on other scholarly activity.

The Chair was established in 1983 to honor Maurice “Doc” Goddard, Pennsylvania’s “father of state parks.”  Goddard directed the School of Forest Resources from 1952 to 1955 and during his subsequent tenure in state government, serving under five governors, he succeeded in establishing a state park within 25 miles of every Pennsylvanian.  Goddard also oversaw the enactment of landmark environmental legislation.  The establishment of the Chair reflects the desire of having an individual at Penn State who follows a tradition set by Goddard himself:  fostering dialogue on important environmental issues among government, industry, academia, and the general public.

Jim Grace’s current responsibilities in PA DCNR include the direction of the bureaus of State Parks and Forestry, as well as the Bureau of Facility Design and Construction.  Under his leadership, Pennsylvania’s state parks were awarded the nation's top honor as the 2009 National Gold Medal Award for Excellence in Park and Recreation Management.  With 117 state parks, Pennsylvania has one of the largest and most diverse park systems in the country. 

During Grace’s tenure as director of the Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry (1994 to 2007), the bureau incorporated the principles of ecosystem management and a landscape approach to forest management.  In addition, the bureau provided more than $5 million for research and Extension activities, and more than 100,000 acres were added to the state forest system.  In 1997, Pennsylvania state forests became the first public forest in the nation to be granted a certificate of good forest management by the Forest Stewardship Council.  At 2.1 million acres of state forest land, Pennsylvania has one of the largest sustainable certified forests in the nation.

Grace "has the qualities essential to help policy makers arrive at balanced decisions for natural resource management" and will "stimulate present and future decision makers to reach out with imagination, conscience, and eagerness to work for solutions to problems of natural resource management," write those who recommended him for the Goddard Chair.

School of Forest Resources director Mike Messina agrees that Grace has the perfect experience required of the position:  “Jim’s experience as a long-time conservation leader will greatly help our School maintain its important role in Penn State’s land-grant mission.  His expertise complements existing strengths among our faculty quite well.”

Grace previously served in a deputy secretary role in the former Department of Environmental Resources from 1987 to 1993.  Prior to that he was on the faculty at Rutgers and at Penn State.  As assistant professor and extension forester in the School of Forest Resources (1983-1986), Grace developed the Forest Resources publication series and newsletter, led research on issues relating to private forest management, and served as chair of the “Year of the Forest” in 1986.

The “Year of the Forest” was a yearlong event that coincided with the 100th anniversary of the Pennsylvania Forestry Association (PFA) and celebrated the Commonwealth’s forests and all the values they provide.  The PFA honored Grace with the Rothrock Award for Conservation that year for his leadership of that event.

Grace earned his Ph.D. in Forest Resources at Penn State in 1978 under the guidance of Dr. Russell Hutnik, with a focus on forest ecology.  His previous academic training includes a B.S. in forest management at the University of Vermont in 1970 and a master’s degree in forest science at Yale University in 1972.

Grace is teaching FOR 480, Policy and Administration, this fall.  He can be reached at jrg1@psu.edu or (814) 867-4384.