SEFS Graduation Speaker: Dean Thomas Maness

For the SEFS graduation celebration this Friday, June 14, we are extremely pleased to welcome Professor Thomas Maness, Dean of the College of Forestry at Oregon State University, as the keynote speaker. A SEFS alumnus, Maness is a leading voice in forestry research and education, and he brings an incredible wealth of professional and academic experience from across the United States and Canada.

Dean Thomas Maness

Thomas Maness

We caught up with Dean Maness this week as he prepares to address the latest class of SEFS graduates. Reflecting on his time as a doctoral student at UW in the 1980s, he spoke of the promising career landscape today’s students can find in the forestry and natural sciences fields.

“Right now there’s a huge opportunity for graduates because so many people who had started their careers in the 1970s and ‘80s are retiring now,” says Maness. “I remember when I graduated, the problem was that the pipeline was full and it was difficult to get promoted. That’s not true now. You see it everywhere, in land management and public agencies or private companies, it’s all the same—there are a lot of opportunities for promotion and career advancement.”

One of the keys to success as a new applicant or employee, he says, will be your approach to work. “I think attitude is everything. Graduates are coming out and they now know the language, but they have to learn the culture. They have to work hard, be responsible and want to learn. That’s what companies are looking for: People who can socialize into their organizations really quickly and be decision-makers.”

Just as important in this profession is being able to present yourself and your ideas, he says. “I think communication is key. To survive in natural resources, you have to have really good communication skills. It doesn’t matter if you’re an economist or an ecologist, you’ve got to be able to connect with people.”

We won’t scoop his talk any further, and we look forward to hearing more on Friday!

The SEFS Graduation Celebration will run from 2 to 3:30 p.m. in Kane Hall 120. A reception will directly follow in the Anderson Hall courtyard.

About the Speaker
Maness, who lives in Corvallis, Ore., with his wife Nicole, earned his Bachelor’s degree in forest management from West Virginia University in 1979, and then a Master’s in forest operations at Virginia Tech in 1981. He then headed west to work for Weyerhaeuser Company as a forest engineer in the Klamath Falls region of Oregon. His responsibilities ranged from developing forest-planning models, to conducting financial analyses for large-scale capital projects, to designing and installing manufacturing optimization systems for West Coast sawmills.

From Weyerhaeuser, Maness returned to school and earned his doctorate in forest economics from the College of Forest Resources at UW (now SEFS). He then joined the Faculty of Forestry at the University of British Columbia, where he served in various capacities for 20 years.

His career highlights are many, including founding the Canadian National Centre of Excellence in Advanced Wood Processing, as well as the BC Forum on Forest Economics and Policy. He led an effort to design and implement a completely new undergraduate program at UBC, which won the Yves Landry Foundation Award for the most innovative Canadian university-level manufacturing technology program in 2002. Later, in 2008, Maness served as senior policy analyst with the U.S. Forest Service in Washington, D.C., researching and writing on climate mitigation and wood energy policy. He joined OSU’s College of Forestry in 2009 and in 2012 became dean of the College of Forestry and director of the Oregon Forest Research Laboratory.

Maness’ research interests include developing innovative forest policies and practices to balance the production of traditional forest products with society’s expanding need for ecosystem services, energy and climate mitigation. He has also developed and taught courses in Forest & Conservation Economics, Sustainable Forest Management and Quality Management.

Photo of Dean Maness © Oregon State College of Forestry

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