Wayne K. Murphey completed his B.S. in Forestry in 1952, followed by an M.S. in Wood Products in 1953. During the summers of 1949 and 1951, he served as a Forest Ranger for the USDA Forest Service in Walla Walla, WA.

Prior to his undergraduate education, Wayne served in the U.S. Navy Air Corps, joining in 1945 and attaining the rank of Aviation Machinist’s Mate 2C following training at Naval Aviation Technology Training Centers in Memphis, Tennessee and Norman, Oklahoma. He served in the Pacific Theater from September 1, 1945 to September 3, 1948. In recognition of his service, Wayne received the World War II Victory Medal and Good Conduct Medal.

Following Wayne’s master’s graduation, he was hired by Koppers Company as an engineer in the Wood Preserving Division at Orrville, Ohio. In 1955, he joined the Ohio Agricultural Experiment Station as a researcher in preservative treatments of wood products.

Wayne returned to academia in 1959, joining University of Michigan’s Department of Wood Technology as an instructor of Wood Technology. While pursuing his Ph.D., Wayne taught courses in wood anatomy and products development. His doctorate was awarded in 1961.

Wayne was hired as an assistant professor of Wood Utilization in Penn State’s School of Forestry in 1960. He advanced to professor, Wood Technology, while also holding several administrative positions. In 1965, Wayne was assigned leadership of the School’s Department of Wood Science and Technology. 

With the appointment of Dr. W.W. Ward as director of the School in 1966, the School’s administration was reconfigured; the departmental structure was removed, and Wayne was appointed associate director of the School. With the completion of the School’s new Forest Research Laboratory in 1967, Wayne was placed in charge of the new facility. He was appointed Acting Assistant Dean for Resident Education in the College of Agriculture, 1968-1970, involving the allocation of teaching resources and assessment of curricular matters across 12 college units.

Wayne’s next career step was acceptance of head of the Department of Forest Science at Texas A&M in 1978. In addition to his administrative responsibilities, Wayne taught forest policy, wood technology, and introduction to forestry. He believed the introductory course should be taught by a “grey-haired professor” and he was the only faculty member fitting that description.

Throughout his research careers at Michigan, Penn State, and Texas A&M, Wayne published 63 refereed papers and co-wrote a book with R.N. Jorgensen, Wood as an Industrial Arts Material. This book became a standard among vocational art programs throughout the United States. Wayne’s primary research efforts were directed to wood preservatives, wood anatomy, and wood laminates. He also collaborated on studies tied to hardwood fiberboards, wood bark as an industrial raw material, and short-rotation woody biomass as an energy source.

Wayne joined the USDA Cooperative States Research Services (CSRS) in Washington D.C. in 1981, serving as principal wood technologist. His focus involved the allocation of federal support to research in forestry, biomass energy, and wood products through McIntire-Stennis and Hatch funding. Allied with these efforts, Wayne coordinated research on alternative energy programs sponsored by the Agency for International Development, U.S. State Department, U.S. Department of Energy, and the governments of Philippines and Morocco. In the Dominican Republic, Wayne reviewed and organized forest management plans for this island nation. Wayne facilitated USAID funding to Brazil’s state of Rio Grande De Sol in the establishment of forestry extension programs to landownership. He lectured in South Africa on the capabilities of American hardwoods as replacement stock for their rain forests. 

Auxiliary to his career appointments, Wayne served the courts of eleven states as an expert witness in litigations concerning wood, which he continued to do after his retirement.

During his tenure in the re-designated Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Services (CREES), Wayne was exemplary in his understanding of the land grant system, its institutions, its research programs, and its scientists. Wayne also led the multidisciplinary Small Business Innovation Research Program and Rangeland Research Grant Program. In his work with colleagues in the USDA, he had notable impacts in the wider realm of agricultural sciences, leading to the completion of numerous projects at various universities. Murphey retired in 1998 after 17 years of service to the USDA.

Murphey was active in the Forest Products Society, the Society of Wood Science, and the Anne Arundel County Forestry Commission. He was a member of the Society of American Foresters, American Forests, Sigma Xi, Xi Sigma Pi, and Alpha Lambda Chi. He was a member and faculty adviser to Tau Phi Delta, professional/social fraternity at Penn State and lent support to their needs throughout his career.

Wayne possessed a depth of knowledge on wood and its functional attributes and a keen understanding of forestry. He was not a traditionalist in the application of these sciences, rather he enjoyed contemporary issues linked to wood science and forestry. His colleagues credited Wayne’s good advice, wisdom, candor, and timely response to their needs. His exceptional interpersonal skills, willingness to serve, analytical ability, and constructive approaches contributed a great deal to the success of agricultural research and educational programs.

Department of Ecosystem Science and Management

Address

117 Forest Resources Building
University Park, PA 16802
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Department of Ecosystem Science and Management

Address

117 Forest Resources Building
University Park, PA 16802
Directions