November 08, 2010

Zaczek named permanent chair of forestry

by K.C. Jaehnig

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- James J. Zaczek, professor in the Department of Forestry at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, has been named permanent chair of that department, having served as interim chair since 2008.

“He has been a great asset to the department and the College of Agricultural Sciences as a faculty member and interim chair, and I am very excited about his acceptance of this position,” said Interim Dean Todd A. Winters.

“He has excellent credentials, an outstanding track record and strong support from the faculty, staff and students, as well as from the administration in the college and University.”
As chair, Zaczek will oversee student recruitment and retention, evaluation of faculty and staff, strategic planning, financial and resource management, fundraising and outreach.

According to data from the USDA’s Food and Agricultural Education and Information System, the department ranks fourth in the nation in awarding undergraduate degrees in forestry. While enrollment has grown 22 percent since he became interim chair, Zaczek said it still remains a priority.

“Our biggest challenge will be to continue to grow the department while maintaining our quality given that growth in faculty and staff positions is unlikely in the short term,” he said.

Despite financial challenges resulting from the poor economy, the department has been remarkably productive, Zaczek said. He noted that last year faculty and students published articles in 24 refereed journals and made presentations at six international and 30 national conferences as well as at 43 regional and state meetings. In addition, faculty members had received nearly $4 million in research support.

“They are outstanding researchers who incorporate graduate and undergraduate student learning and experiences in exciting and relevant research programs,” Zaczek said.

A two-degree graduate of his department, Zaczek joined the faculty in 1997, specializing in forest ecology and teaching such subjects as woody plant physiology, dendrology and ecology. His research has focused on restoration of native giant cane, oak and bottomland forest regeneration and maple syrup production.

Zaczek serves as chair of the National Association of University Forestry Research Program’s north-central region. Professional affiliations include the Society of American Foresters, the Illinois Forestry Association, the Association of Southeastern Biologists and the International Plant Propagators Society.

Zaczek earned his doctorate at The Pennsylvania State University in 1994.