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Honors and Awards

Erin Sills Named Head of Forestry Department

Dr. Erin Sills

After serving in an interim role for nearly a year, Erin Sills has been named the permanent head of the Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources at NC State’s College of Natural Resources, effective June 30.

Sills, who is recognized internationally for research on reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries, joined the department in 1997 as an instructor and director of international programs and was named the Edwin F. Conger Professor of Forestry and Environmental Resources in 2018.

In July 2020, following Tom Gower’s decision to return to the faculty and renew his research and teaching efforts within the department, Sills accepted the role of interim department head.

“As interim department head, Dr. Sills provided critical leadership during a very difficult year. She has been highly effective in leading the largest and most complex department in the college,” said Myron Floyd, dean of the College of Natural Resources. “I am excited to see the department continue to flourish under her leadership.”

Floyd added that Sills brings an “outstanding combination of exemplary faculty accomplishments, broad perspective on forestry disciplines, extensive institutional knowledge, proven leadership, and commitment to program excellence” to the department.

When asked what it means to be named permanent department head, Sills said: “It is a vote of confidence from both the college leadership and my faculty colleagues, which I greatly appreciate.”

She added that the appointment offers her an opportunity to “shift my focus from managing the pandemic response — which is really what I have been doing for the past year — to leading the process of identifying department goals and creating structures that will help us achieve those goals.”

Founded in 1929, the Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources is one of the oldest and largest departments of its kind in the nation. It has since grown to offer five undergraduate majors and five graduate programs, as well as a research portfolio that includes environmental science and technology, forest genetics, wildlife management, public science and more.

Going forward, Sills said one of her key priorities is to maintain the collegial and supportive community that has long been a hallmark of the department, ensuring that all faculty, staff and students are included in that community while also helping them fulfill their “high ambitions” and “drive for excellence.”

She added that Gower was “incredibly generous with his time and with sharing his hard-won insights on this job” during her time as interim department head, creating a habit of asking for advice. “I intend to keep asking, taking advantage of the huge brain trust represented by our faculty and staff.”