You’ve heard me say it in this column or in person: “It’s about the people, all the time.” I am especially reminded of the truth of this statement by this issue of the newsmagazine. It highlights transfer students, mid-career alumna Charisa Morris, and three CNRE women leaders: a student, an alumna, and a professor. The newsmagazine also features faculty researcher Jennifer Russell, who is pushing the envelope of sustainability; recent graduate Olivia Snow, who has started on a successful career path; and faculty member Carolyn Copenheaver, who is combatting harassment in the field.

You’ll also find stories about Visiting Executive and alumnus Brent Keefer and his global perspective, the Wood Enterprise Institute students and their real-world business experience, alumni award-winning faculty members Marc Stern and Emmanuel Frimpong, and my colleague Jim Campbell, who is celebrating an almost 50-year career at Virginia Tech.

Look at the pictures, look at the faces, and look at the people. Think about the impact of these individuals, all of whom are at different places in their lives. They all journeyed through Virginia Tech and the college. Someone led them, someone mentored them, someone taught them, someone influenced them, someone supported them with a scholarship, and someone cared about them. How very fortunate we are to be in a place that engages such a diverse group of talented people — and to be a part of their lives.

Please make sure you note the faces and stories of the exceptional women who are making their mark in natural resources. It was not that long ago that our disciplines were almost totally male. We are making real progress in gender diversity throughout our student and faculty ranks, and we know that we still have work to do to attract more underrepresented minorities to our disciplines.

Finally, as I read this issue, I am also struck by the diversity of work in the college. Founded within a tradition of forestry and wildlife conservation, we must maintain these roots but also keep pace with the changing landscape around us. To my forestry and forest products alumni and friends, know that our roots in these disciplines are deep and that we want and need your support and engagement to continue to shape the future.

To all of our alumni, parents, and friends, please call or email me with any thoughts, suggestions, or questions. As I say to the Dean’s Advisory Council members, we need your eyes on the horizon to help us create the future. You are out there around the world; we are in Blacksburg. Tell us what you see and hear so we can be the very best we can be. We strive for excellence in all we do, and we strive to prepare our students for success, wherever their paths lead. It is about the people — all the people — all the time.

Warm regards from our faculty, staff, and students,

Paul Winistorfer

Paul M. Winistorfer