MSU forestry professor emeritus receives 2023 CANR Distinguished Faculty Award

Donald Dickmann, Ph.D., a professor emeritus in the MSU Department of Forestry, will receive a 2023 CANR Distinguished Faculty Award during ANR Week.

Donald Dickmann, Ph.D.
Donald Dickmann, Ph.D.

Donald Dickmann, Ph.D., of Haslett, Michigan, will receive a Michigan State University (MSU) College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) Distinguished Faculty Award at the March 10 ANR Awards Program.

The Distinguished Faculty Award recognizes faculty members who have brought distinction to the CANR through teaching, research and/or outreach and provided leadership that has helped students, faculty members and/or citizens reach their potential for excellence.

Dickmann is a professor emeritus of silviculture and physiological ecology in the MSU Department of Forestry. For over 40 years he taught undergraduate courses in silviculture, Michigan forests, tree physiology, dendrology, timber harvesting, general forestry, general botany, plant physiology, and general biology. He also taught graduate courses in silviculture, wildland fire, forestry research, tree physiology, and plant ecology. Additionally, he was a silviculture instructor for the spring Forestry Field Camp from 1977-2002. During his tenure, he served as major professor for 15 Ph.D. students and approximately 35 master's degree students.

His teaching, research, and outreach were outstanding. His leadership helped students, faculty and citizens to reach their full potential both, academically and professionally. Dickmann was recognized in 2016 with the MSU Faculty Emeriti Association Award for Outstanding Contributions by an Individual. In 2021, he created an endowment to support junior faculty in the Department of Forestry. He has published more than 70 research articles and five books. Dickmann also cares deeply about a natural resources-literate citizenry, for both MSU students and beyond. Together with Dr. Larry Leefers, Dickmann wrote the popular book, The Forests of Michigan, which serves as the foundation for a course of similar name, which hundreds take every year. The book also is popular among high school teachers, naturalists, and others who care about Michigan’s forests. Dickmann also wrote a manual for science teachers related to field studies in forestry, as well as a book on forest types or ‘communities’ that are encountered in Michigan. Many students love this book and we now send each incoming student a recruiting/care package, of which this book is the centerpiece.

Dickmann's research brought a fresh perspective to fire ecology, providing critical studies on how forests can take multiple pathways of recovery (or ‘succession’) after disturbances like fire. Furthermore, while his work informed fundamental concepts, it always had an important applied dimension of how forests could be managed more sustainably based on ecological knowledge. For example, his research has been important in applying fire as a management tool both in minimizing understory competition in red pine stands as well as optimally managing jack pine stands for habitat of the previously endangered bird species, Kirtland’s Warbler.

He holds professional certifications as a certified forester with the Society of American Foresters and as a certified senior ecologist for the Ecological Society of America. He has been honored as a fellow by the Society of American Foresters, received the Woodland Honors Award from the Michigan Forest Association, Outstanding Service Award from the Poplar Council of the United States, the MSU Faculty Emeriti Association Outstanding Contributions by an Individual Award for 2015-2016 and honorary societies — Sigma Xi, Xi Sigma Pi, Gamma Sigma Delta. Additionally, Dickmann served as vice chair and chair of the Shiawassee County Planning Commission from 2005-2014 and also served on the Kirtland warbler census team, Huron National Forest. He is also an instrument-rated private pilot (1,300 hours total time), a volunteer for the Meridian Township Parks & Recreation Tower and Foster-Davis Preserves, member of the local chapter Porsche Club of America, serving as a board member 2011-present completing terms as both vice president and president.


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