Oderwald Retires as Professor Emeritus
February 15, 2011
The Virginia Tech Board of Visitors honored Richard Oderwald, professor of forest biometrics and associate dean of academic programs, with the title of “professor emeritus” following his retirement last summer. The emeritus title, given only to retired faculty and staff specially recommended by the university president, recognizes both Oderwald’s significant contributions to the field of forest biometrics and his passion for teaching.
During his 35-year career, Oderwald taught a variety of graduate and undergraduate courses across the spectrum of natural resources topics, earning several awards for teaching excellence and becoming a favor- ite among students along the way. Last spring, his popularity in the classroom led one student to confer another honor on him — Oderwald became the first professor in the college with a Facebook fan page. The page records some of the more quotable moments from Oderwald’s classes, of which there are many. “The quotes are all true, unfortunately,” he quipped, “but really, it’s good publicity as long as they spell your name right.”
Though officially retired, Oderwald has barely slowed down. He continues to teach the college’s Introduction to Renewable natural Resources course, has started teaching a vector geometry course at new River Community College, and is developing an online course for forest inventory and point sampling. He also works as a forestry consultant. “It’s a great job,” he said, “because the more outrageous my advice is, the more money I charge so that people believe it.”
However, Oderwald was not free to begin teaching and consulting immediately after cleaning out his office. “I spent the first month of retirement working through the list of ‘projects’ that my wife had stored up for the last 30 years,” he explained wryly.
So far, Oderwald is enjoying his retirement. “The college is in good hands and I think they’re going to do well,” he said. “I’ll be happy to watch them do well, but I don’t miss going to work every day. Retirement was a good idea.”