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Board of Visitors pays tribute to Professor Emeritus John Hosner with honorary founding dean title


Dr. John Hosner

Oct. 3, 2016 – John Hosner, professor emeritus of forestry at Virginia Tech, has been recognized with the additional tribute of “honorary founding dean” of the College of Natural Resources and Environment by the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors.

This additional honor comes as the College of Natural Resources and Environment marks the 25th anniversary of its founding in 1992, when it was known as the College of Forestry and Wildlife Resources.

Hosner was named professor emeritus in 1992.

Hosner, who at age 91 still comes into his office at the college every day, played a significant role in the establishment of the college. Today, the college commands a worldwide reputation of excellence in responding to society’s emerging needs for a sustainable planet.

“We needed to recognize John with this title as he sacrificed much to set the foundation to create the college at Virginia Tech,” said Paul Winistorfer, dean of the college. “He was a visionary, and we thank him.”

“John laid the foundation on which our first dean, Greg Brown, who served for 12 years, continued to build, along with his successor Mike Kelly, who served for five years,” Winistorfer said. “Today our college enjoys the No. 1 ranking in the United States.”

Hosner came to Virginia Tech in 1961 as the first head of the newly established Department of Forestry and Wildlife. The department had four faculty members in what was then called the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. He began to build the department by calling fellow department heads of like programs across the county to find out who their best doctoral graduates were so he could recruit them for his faculty.

One of his student recruits and a lifelong college supporter, John Harrison, who graduated in 1967, said, “John Hosner was the reason I majored in forestry and wildlife, and I never regretted it. He came out of his office one day and happened to see me wandering around in Price Hall and asked me if I needed help. His enthusiasm for the program he was building motivated me to change majors, and that led me to a very successful forestry career.”

Hosner also sought the support of industry leaders to grow the program into a college. In 1976, his department became the School of Forestry and Wildlife Resources.

In 1992, the school became the College of Forestry and Wildlife Resources, and Greg Brown became the college’s first dean. Over the years, the new college experienced additional name changes to reflect the broadening scope of studies in order to be relevant to society’s changing needs.  (continue reading..........)

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