Auburn University announces retirement of former dean, professor Jim Shepard

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Auburn University has announced the retirement of Jim Shepard, former dean and professor in the College of Forestry, Wildlife and Environment.

Shepard, who is an expert in forest soils, forest ecology and wetlands policy, was the former professor and associate director of the Forest and Wildlife Research Center at Mississippi State University before being appointed dean of what was then the Auburn University School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences in 2011. Among Shepard’s achievements as dean at Auburn, he oversaw the fundraising and construction of the Solon and Martha Dixon Foundation Learning Center in Andalusia, Alabama, the first official wildlife summer field practicum completed in 2012, and the establishment of the Natural Resources Management undergraduate degree.

Shepard served as dean for four years before returning to an academic role as professor of forest soils, where he taught Forest Ecology, Forest Soils, Forest Wetlands Restoration Ecology and Natural Resource Policy. The primary emphasis of his research during his career has focused on natural resources policy and regulations, wetlands ecology and management and forest soils classification and mapping.

“In addition to his scholarly accomplishments in forest sustainability, environmental management and academia, we commend Dr. Shepard for his leadership to enhance the Solon Dixon Forestry Education Center and the college’s academic programs,” said Janaki Alavalapati, dean of the College of Forestry, Wildlife and Environment.

“With the construction of the state-of-the-art Solon and Marth Dixon Foundation Learning Center, the Dixon Center has become one of the finest educational facilities of its type in the nation, offering an unparalleled learning environment for our students and other agencies and institutions.”

In his previous roles, Shepard served as head of Mississippi State’s Department of Forestry from 2005-08. He also served 14 years with the National Council for Air and Stream Improvement in Gainesville, Florida, in positions such as sustainable forestry program manager and forest wetlands program manager.

During this time, he worked for seven years as a courtesy associate professor in the University of Florida’s School of Forest Resources and Conservation, where he helped initiate Florida’s study abroad program with the Czech University of Agriculture’s forestry school.

Shepard earned his doctorate from Mississippi State in 1985 in forest resources with a focus on forest soils. He then served as a research scientist for five years at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry, where his work focused on the biogeochemical effects of atmospheric deposition.

Shepard plans to relocate to Gainesville, Florida, with his wife, Cathy.

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Auburn University is a nationally ranked land grant institution recognized for its commitment to world-class scholarship, interdisciplinary research with an elite, top-tier Carnegie R1 classification, life-changing outreach with Carnegie’s Community Engagement designation and an undergraduate education experience second to none. Auburn is home to more than 30,000 students, and its faculty and research partners collaborate to develop and deliver meaningful scholarship, science and technology-based advancements that meet pressing regional, national and global needs. Auburn’s commitment to active student engagement, professional success and public/private partnership drives a growing reputation for outreach and extension that delivers broad economic, health and societal impact.