The Ruth H. Spaniol Chair of Renewable Resources

Ruth SpaniolIn 1992 the late Ruth Spaniol, '33, gave 800 acres of forestland valued at $3.1 million to the OSU Foundation. According to Mrs. Spaniol's wishes, the Foundation held the proceeds from the eventual sale of the land in three charitable remainder trusts, established to benefit her three children throughout their lifetimes. With the 2003 death of her daughter, Sherry Chain, after a battle with cancer, one of the trusts passed to the College of Forestry, creating an endowed chair in renewable resources.

Mrs. Spaniol, who attended OAC (now OSU) during the Depression, taught language arts at Stayton Union High School, including courses in Latin. She began buying timberland after her father (a 1903 Oregon State alumnus) suggested it would be a good investment.

Her long-term vision was to promote the science and educational programs that will allow Oregon forests to be well managed for many generations. "As a society, we're going to have to do more to preserve and enhance the capability of our forests,” she said when she made the gift. "We'll need to do a lot in the science field—develop new ideas about how to manage forests, not just in the harvest area but in developing new products."

 

Michael P. Nelson

Michael NelsonMichael Nelson became the holder of the Spaniol Chair in 2012. His research and teaching focus on environmental philosophy and ethics, philosophy of ecology, wildlife ecology and ethics, conservation biology, and applied philosophy. He serves as the Lead Principal Investigator for OSU's H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest Long-Term Ecological Research site near Blue River.

Nelson is called upon regularly by organizations and agencies to assist in understanding the ethical dimensions and implications of management decisions. He is the co-founder and co-director of the Conservation Ethics Group, a consultancy group fusing ethics with social and ecological science. Since 2005 he has served as the philosopher in residence of the Isle Royale Wolf-Moose Project in Lake Superior, the longest continuous study of a predator-prey system in the world.

Among other writings Nelson is the author or editor of four books: The Great New Wilderness Debate, The Wilderness Debate Rages On, and American Indian Environmental Ethics, all with J. Baird Callicott, and the award-winning Moral Ground: Ethical Action for a Planet in Peril (2010) with OSU Distinguished Professor of Philosophy Kathleen Dean Moore.

Before joining Oregon State, Nelson held a triple-joint appointment in Michigan State University's Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Department of Philosophy, and Lyman Briggs College. He previously was on the faculty of the University of Idaho and the University of
Wisconsin-Stevens Point. Nelson holds a master's degree from Michigan State University and a Ph.D. in philosophy from Lancaster University in England.

 

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