CHAPTER 1 - INTRODUCTION AND OVERVIEW 1.1 Historical Perspective

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					                        CHAPTER 1 - INTRODUCTION AND OVERVIEW

1.1     Historical Perspective

The formation of a broader natural resources unit has been discussed periodically by numerous
committees, subcommittees, external review teams, and task forces, beginning in 1965. Indeed, many of
the units merged to form the School of Natural Resources were included in a subcommittee report to the
Board of Regents in 1980. Their recommendations included,

        “Study the feasibility and advisability of establishing a School of Natural Resources
        within the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources to include: Conservation
        and Survey, Meteorology and Climatology, Forestry, Fisheries and Wildlife,
        Arboretum, Range Management, Hydrology, Environmental Programs, and possibly
        the Geology Department from the College of Arts and Sciences.”

After decades of discussion, debate, and recommendations, the School of Natural Resources Sciences
(SNRS) was formed in 1997 by consolidation of the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Wildlife, the
Department of Agricultural Meteorology, a portion of the Conservation and Survey Division (including the
Center for Advanced Land Management Information Technologies, or CALMIT), the UNL Water
Center, and faculty from several other academic units, including the Department of Agronomy and
Horticulture, the Department of Geosciences, and the School of Biological Sciences. The Nebraska
Forest Service and the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum were identified as close affiliates of the new
School. Thus, SNRS was formed by the merger of two long-standing units and faculty from several
others, yet it did not include all of the units envisioned by the subcommittee report to the Regents in 1980
or by the SNRS Implementation Committee in 1996 (which essentially echoed the 1980 report).

SNRS represented a new model for academic units at UNL, because it was the first unit to be part of
both the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS, located on City Campus) and the College of Agricultural
Sciences and Natural Resources, which is part of the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources
(IANR, located on East Campus). Thus, the Director of SNRS reported to four deans in two colleges, one
in CAS and three in IANR (i.e. teaching, research and extension). In addition, SNRS was comprised of
many faculty with joint appointments in SNRS and other academic units, as well as a large number of
affiliated faculty with adjunct or courtesy appointments. A major goal of the School was to enhance the
professional expertise of the faculty by facilitating programmatic interactions needed to address priority
needs. In addition, SNRS was designed to foster partnerships and linkages with state and federal
agencies. The broad vision of SNRS when it was formed was:

        “The School will be a nationally prominent leader in academic, research, scholarly
        service and outreach programs in natural resource and environmental sciences.
        The School will have strong scientific programs to provide understanding of
        complex relationships and interactions within and among natural and managed
        ecosystems, will provide leadership in developing outstanding academic programs
        in natural resources and environmental sciences, and will develop integrated
        strategies to affect the social and economic processes. Thus, the School will serve
        the academic and scientific community, government agencies, resource managers,
        landowners, and the general public with timely and relevant information on the use
        and conservation of renewable and nonrenewable natural resources and on
        resource management opportunities and environmental challenges, particularly


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        those in the Great Plains. Collaboration within and among disciplines will
        characterize the School’s programs.”

Since its inception in August 1997, the School underwent numerous important changes, including several
changes in leadership, the Natural Resources Business Center [which provided business and
administrative support to SNRS (and now SNR) and its affiliates] was centralized in a new location along
with SNRS administrative offices, and the Water Center was transferred back out of the School in 2001.

The former head of the Department of Agricultural Meteorology, Dr. Blaine Blad, chaired the SNRS
Implementation Committee and was the first Director of SNRS. The directorship was originally
established for two years, but was extended to nearly three, including a national search for a new
director. Dr. Ted Elliott, an ecosystem scientist, became Director in June 2000 and served until December
2001 when he went on medical leave. Ted passed away in June 2002 after battling cancer for over a
year. Following an internal search, Dr. Kyle Hoagland became Acting and then Interim Director, from
December 2001 to August 1, 2003.

The School of Natural Resources (SNR) was established on July 1, 2003 by the consolidation of the
School of Natural Resource Sciences, the Conservation and Survey Division, and the Water Center.
Programmatic opportunities and enhanced service to clientele groups were key elements in the decision to
create a new unit. This merger was intended to leverage a history of collaboration at a time when
administrative efficiencies and limited funding issues were critical, as they remain today. Integrating CSD
with SNRS and the Water Center was a logical extension of a high level of formal and informal
integration already in place through SNRS and fulfills most of the recommendation made in 1980.
Following an internal search, Dr. Mark Kuzila, formerly Director of the Conservation and Survey
Division, became Director of SNR on August 1, 2003 for a minimum of a three-year period. The faculty
in SNR expressed their desire to IANR administration of having the option to conduct another national
search for a new director, beginning in early 2005.

1.2     Previous Program Reviews

The most recent CSREES Comprehensive Reviews for the Department of Agricultural Meteorology
(1995), Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Wildlife (1996), and Conservation and Survey Division
(2001) are located in Appendix 1.1, 1.2, and 1.3, respectively. The unit responses to the review teams’
principal recommendations are also included in these appendices. These reviews were generally positive
and supportive, with recommendations on recurring issues such as space needs, new courses and degree
programs, future faculty and support staff hires, research priority areas, infrastructure upgrades, and
increased collaboration within the unit and with state and federal agencies.

1.3     Integration of SNRS, CSD, and Water Center

There were close working relationships among the personnel in the three units prior to their consolidation.
These three units shared faculty through joint and courtesy appointments, joint research projects, and dual
administrative duties (e.g., the Acting Director of the Water Center was also Associate Director of
CSD). SNRS focused on the teaching, research and outreach missions of the university; CSD and the
Water Center were units focusing primarily on research and scholarly service to clientele throughout
Nebraska. Thus, the integration of these units is expected to result in a new unit that is stronger than each
individually and one that will fully utilize their combined strengths to develop a more comprehensive
natural resources program in all areas of academic and scholarly service. Thus, in the interest of elevating


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Natural Resources within IANR, the IANR Vice Chancellor decided that implementation of the recent
integration of the three units would be in the best long-term interest for all involved. These units are
considered to have high priority core programs within IANR, thus excellence in these areas is important to
both the University and the State. A majority of faculties in the three units supported the integration in fall
2002.

The three units recently merged had missions that reflected a partial overlap in faculty scientific expertise
and unit objectives, thus their integration is expected to be mutually complementary, enhancing teaching,
research and outreach activities. Their individual missions were as follows:

        SNRS: “To combine innovative interdisciplinary approaches with disciplinary excellence in the
        physical, biological and social sciences in order to: (1) foster an integrated, ecosystem approach to
        address complex natural resource and environmental issues; (2) provide a quality academic
        experience for students that prepares them to assume roles as natural resource scientists,
        managers and users during the 21st century; (3) provide relevant scientific information to
        stakeholders via innovative outreach and education programs, and; (4) nurture the development of
        a conservation ethic, which includes a responsible role for humans as components of ecosystems
        and stewards for natural resources.”

        CSD: “To investigate and record information about Nebraska's geologic history, its rock and
        mineral resources, the quantity and quality of its water resources, land cover and other aspects of
        its geography, as well as the nature, distribution and uses of its soils.”

        Water Center: “To develop and implement programs in water science associated with agriculture
        and natural resources.”

The SNR combined mission is clearly a hybrid of these mission statements, addressing teaching, research,
outreach, and service missions that encompass all three units optimally. To illustrate the mutually
complementary nature of this combined unit, SNRS outreach efforts are expected to be greatly enhanced
by the merger with CSD and the Water Center because of their core missions, whereas CSD research-
related activities should be expanded and improved by merging with SNRS. This was already apparent
through joint appointments of CALMIT faculty (i.e. in CSD and SNRS), when the SNRS was first
formed. Similarly, activity in all aspects of water sciences is expected to increase in all three units as a
result of the merger. Additional synergistic interactions are also anticipated. For example, more team-
taught courses in some areas, more interdisciplinary, large grant projects, and better coordination of
natural resources information services are expected. Thus, all units involved should benefit relative to their
previous strengths, rather than one or two being enhanced at the expense of another. For academic
program enhancement and the potential expansion of natural resources course offerings, faculty with total
or partial survey and scholarly service appointments in CSD have a greater opportunity to teach
undergraduate and graduate courses under the broader mission of the new unit; likewise, extension
faculty in SNRS have an excellent opportunity to work more closely with CSD faculty and Water Center
personnel on delivering natural resources outreach programs.

We are also aware that an effective integration of these three units must occur at the individual level as
well for the consolidation to be successful. Thus, we have planned an annual research colloquium and
social events throughout the year to increase the opportunities for personnel interaction and discussion. In
addition, faculty and staff meetings are now often combined on a monthly basis, to enhance interactions
with staff, and to keep them informed and included in the decision-making process.

1.4     Our Long-term Vision for the School of Natural Resources

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The recently integrated unit, SNR, addresses the IANR Strategic Plan (2000-2008) program theme,
“Improve Natural Resource Management and Enhance Environmental Quality” by: (a) placing high
priority on water and mineral resources programs; (b) augmenting the understanding, management, and
stewardship of Nebraska’s soil and range land resources; (c) supporting programs on geographic
information systems (GIS) and natural resource data base activities; (d) supporting programs on global
climate and environmental change; and (e) enhancing Nebraska’s woodlands, wildlife, fisheries, and other
aquatic resources through research, education, and service programs.

Key contributions by SNR to crucial ecological, agricultural, and human dimensions issues facing the
State, the nation, and the world are reflected in our seven program areas:

Biological Systems - conservation biology of plants and animals; agroforestry and shelterbelt ecology;
riparian ecology; prevention of non-point pollution of rivers; wildlife ecology; and fisheries science;

Climate and Bio-atmospheric Systems - impacts of global environmental change; carbon sequestration;
climate and drought monitoring; severe weather; micrometeorology; environmental biophysics;

Earth Resources - soil science; microbiological systems; geological studies; cycling of natural and human-
made chemicals; and soil restoration;

Ecosystems - encompassing all of the above and including the specialization areas of agro-ecosystems,
grassland ecology and management, woodland habitats, landscape ecology, carbon sequestration, climate
change, riparian systems, aquatic systems, and urban habitats;

Geospatial Information - remote sensing/GIS; geospatial analysis of cultural and natural resources; global
positioning systems; and natural systems simulation;

Human Dimensions - natural resource management, planning, law, and economics; drought mitigation;
human-wildlife conflicts; and rural sustainability; this is a newly emerging area within the current School,
and one that we anticipate will grow significantly in SNR;

Water Resources - water quality/chemistry; ground/surface water systems and their modelling; water
chemistry and analysis; wetlands and lake ecology; and soil moisture;

Thus, we view our new mission as broader than in any of the individual, pre-merged units, and one that
offers a plethora of new opportunities in research, teaching, extension/outreach, and survey. Natural
resources programs have been elevated within IANR to unprecedented levels in the history of this land-
grant institution. With the pending new Natural Resources building, we envision even greater things. Our
new vision and mission for the School of Natural Resources are:

        SNR Vision - The School of Natural Resources will be an international leader in natural
        resources education, research, and outreach. The School will also be the primary provider of
        natural resources information and service to the citizens and stakeholders of Nebraska.

        SNR Mission - The School of Natural Resources will combine interdisciplinary approaches and
        disciplinary excellence to:
        •        foster an integrated, systems approach to address complex natural resource,
                 environmental and human issues;


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        •        provide a quality academic experience for students;
        •        conduct fundamental research of the mechanisms associated with natural resource
                 systems;
        •        provide innovative outreach to citizens and stakeholders;
        •        investigate, record, and disseminate information about Nebraska’s earth, water,
                 atmospheric and biological resources; and
        •        promote a comprehensive conservation ethic for the effective and appropriate
                 management and sustainable utilization of natural resources.

1.5     Format and Content of Review Document

This report is arranged by functional groupings (teaching, research, extension/outreach, and survey) rather
than sub-discipline, reflecting our philosophy of integration instead of mini-departments. Based on prior
reviews in departments ultimately merged to form SNR, as well as more recent reviews of other units in
IANR, we have provided documentation to facilitate this review, nevertheless we would be happy to
provide other information deemed necessary by the Review Team. In addition, we have included open
time periods in the review schedule to facilitate meetings with individuals and/or groups not part of the set
schedule, at the Review Team’s discretion.




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