Under the lights in Lane Stadium on a May evening, we celebrated spring commencement with our students and families. It is a big deal to complete a degree program and graduate from one of the leading universities in the United States. Virginia Tech offers a great education, and our students will define our future as they shape their careers moving forward. Congratulations to CNRE’s most recent graduates!

At the other end of the life timeline, we lost Professor Bob Giles, who had such a tremendous impact. And we saw retiring faculty members Dean Stauffer and Bill Carstensen start the next chapters of their lives. These two dedicated professors made huge contributions in their careers, and they were also good colleagues and good people. More retirements are imminent, and shaping the future of the college is one of our highest priorities.

What will our new faculty find when they land here? At the center of what we do is educating students. Future faculty will define courses and curricula to meet the evolving needs of society. A willingness to embrace a changing world in all of our disciplines is necessary to be successful in the decades ahead. Seeking to understand and find solutions to global challenges will define our research programs. And, finally, as a Land Grant institution, we are committed to serving the people and natural resources of the Commonwealth of Virginia through our extension and outreach programs.

We feature several forestry stories in this issue. The generational legacy of the Turner family is forest succession at its finest with old growth and a newly established forester in the same family tree! We had a rewarding time working with Athletic Director Whit Babcock on his family forested property. Landscape scale management of our forests in the commonwealth and the nation depends on understanding and using all available tools, including fire and prescribed burns. We have a long history of fire education and training, and we thank retired professor Shep Zedaker for his work in this area as well as current faculty member Adam Coates for continuing our leadership in fire education and research.

What we do in this college matters to the future of the planet—don’t doubt it for a minute. Clean air, clean and plentiful water, climate change adaptation and mitigation, forests, trees, wood, packaging, global commerce, renewable materials, carbon, weather, urban and rural environments, wildlife, biodiversity, infectious diseases, artificial intelligence, data, modeling, forecasting, policy, sea level rise, coastal communities, environmental security, quality of life, people, and much more. We are on it!

In August, we will welcome our largest incoming class of first-year and transfer students. It’s an exciting time for us and for our new and returning students. Thank you for your interest in and support of all we do in the college. Please reach out to me if you have questions or suggestions.

Warm regards from our faculty, staff, and students.

Paul Winistorfer

Paul Winistorfer