Stafford named College of Natural Resources dean

Brett Angel

Susan Stafford will become the new dean of the College of Natural Resources on Oct. 1, pending Board of Regents approval.

Stafford, who currently heads the forest sciences department at Colorado State University, said she welcomes the chance to lead a college that boasts the number-one-ranked forestry program in the country.

“It’s just a tremendous opportunity,” said Stafford, adding that the team-oriented environment in Minnesota lured her to the University.

“My nature is very collaborative, and I’ve been very impressed with the strong collaborative work ethic here,” she said.

Mary Nichols, dean of the College of Continuing Education and chairwoman of the search committee that recruited Stafford, said she saw Stafford’s quality from the beginning.

“She’s got a wonderful breadth of experience Ö but it’s her style as a leader that sets her apart,” Nichols said. “She’s able to frame a vision and frame a vision that engages other people.”

Stafford has taught for nearly 20 years at Oregon State University and was also division director of the National Science Foundation.

The search process started in December when current CNR dean Al Sullivan announced plans to resign this fall to spend more time with family and friends.

Stafford inherits a college whose programs are highly regarded nationally. In addition to forestry, CNR’s fisheries and wildlife and natural resources management programs rank among the nation’s top 10.

“She builds on an extremely strong foundation,” said interim President Robert Bruininks.

Stafford said her top priority is increasing the college’s enrollment. She said she hopes to attract students through information about the high quality of education and the increasing number of job opportunities in their fields.

She said she’s counting on the faculty to help her achieve that goal.

“We’re a small college, but we can amplify our presence on campus and (in the community) by working together.”