Richard Porterfield Named Dean of UGA School of Forest Resources

Richard Porterfield Named Dean of UGA School of Forest Resources

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Richard L. Porterfield, a former forestry professor who for 21 years held executive positions with Champion International paper company, has been chosen dean of the University of Georgia's Warnell School of Forest Resources.

WRITER:  Larry B. Dendy, 706/542-8078,


CONTACT:  Arnett Mace, 706/542-5806,



ATHENS, Ga.--Richard L. Porterfield, a former forestry professor who for 21 years held executive positions with Champion International paper company, has been chosen dean of the University of Georgia's Warnell School of Forest Resources.

Porterfield was chosen from among four finalists identified in a national search led by Keith Prasse, dean of UGA's College of Veterinary Medicine.  His appointment is effective Jan. 1, 2004, pending approval by the University System Board of Regents.  He will succeed James Sweeney, who has been interim dean since October of 2002.

While working for Champion from 1979 until 2000, Porterfield headed two of the company's major divisions that each had annual sales near or above $1 billion. He also oversaw the firms human resources operation, and was responsible for management of the company's five million acres of timberlands.

With some $5.5 billion in annual sales, Champion was one of the nation's leading forest products companies, and one of the largest landowners in the country, until it was acquired by International Paper.

Prior to joining Champion, Porterfield was a professor of forest resources at Mississippi State University and taught forestry at the University of Arkansas.  For the past year he has taught at the College of William and Mary where he created a new course in natural resource economics.

He is board chairman of the Forest History Society, a non-profit organization that is in the quiet phase of an $8 million capital campaign to support improved natural resource management.  He also chaired the executive committee for the American Forest and Paper Associations Sustainable Forestry Initiative, a major industry program for natural resources conservation and management.

UGA President Michael F. Adams said, "As a widely known and respected national leader in forestry and natural resources, Richard Porterfield has the stature, background and influence to build what is already an outstanding forestry school into one of even greater prominence. His experience in both the academic and corporate worlds has enabled him to create an exciting vision of growth and excellence that I know will be welcomed by faculty, staff and alumni of the school."

UGA Provost Arnett Mace, who was dean of the Warnell School before becoming provost, said Porterfield is "one of the brightest, most effective, committed and personable professionals I have had the pleasure of working with over many years.  His depth of expertise,diverse management and leadership experiences, communication skills and organizational abilities will serve him well as dean of the Warnell School."

Mace expressed appreciation to Prasse and the search committee for presenting "four excellent candidates for the deanship of the Warnell School."

Founded in 1906, the Warnell School is the oldest forest resources program in the South. With more than 200 undergraduates, some 140 graduate students and 37 faculty members, the school offers bachelors,masters and doctoral programs in the areas of forestry, wildlife,fisheries and aquaculture and forest environmental resources.

The school manages almost 25,000 acres of forest land for research and teaching purposes in Clarke and other counties, and also operates a fisheries research and extension center in Cohutta.  In addition,the school manages a 2,000-acre forest near Savannah and a 2,500-acre forest on Lake Blackshear in southwest Georgia.

As executive vice president and corporate officer for Champions uncoated papers division, his last position with the company, Porterfield oversaw annual production and sales of 1,400 million tons of uncoated paper products, with sales worth $830 million in1999.  Before that, he was executive vice president and corporate officer for the forest products division, with annual sales of $1billion.  In both positions he was responsible for more than 2,500employees.

While heading the forest products division, Porterfield was responsible for managing Champions five million acres of forest land.  He created a program known as "Special Places in the Forest" to preserve unique properties in the forests.  A similar program was later adopted as part of the industry's Sustainable Forestry Initiative.

He was also senior vice president and corporate officer for organizational development and human resources for Champion, and held management positions with the company in Connecticut, Alabama and South Carolina.

Porterfield has a doctorate in forestry and economics from Yale, where he taught a graduate-level course in forest economics in 2001.  He has a masters in forest economics from North Carolina State University and a bachelors in forest business from Ohio State.

He is chair of the Society of American Foresters accreditation committee and has been a board member and treasurer of American Forests. While at Champion he was on the boards of the company's recycling and realty corporations.

In a letter outlining his vision for the Warnell School, Porterfield said the school is a recognized leader in natural resource education,research and service, but has the opportunity to become the "very best"and "lead the (natural resource) profession into the future."

He said he will work to further improve student quality and preparation, work with faculty to improve already high productivity,especially in research, and expand the schools outreach on campus, in the community and to the state, nation and world.

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