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Dean Janaki Alavalapati




Greetings to all,

As we approach the holiday weekend, I would like to update you on Auburn University’s preparations for returning to on-campus operations and instruction and a few other exciting developments that have recently transpired to advance our academic, research, and outreach programs.

Auburn’s second summer semester is underway and university buildings are now re-opened for students and visitors as of June 29. To serve these groups, campus buildings will be partially staffed until the fall semester. As you transition back to campus, you will also notice that signage has been installed within the building to guide employee, student, and visitor adherence to safety protocols. Please remember face coverings are required inside university buildings, including classrooms and laboratories, which also extends to those attending university events in non-university buildings. To review the policy, visit this link. For any questions regarding PPE and protective supply needs, please contact Paula Davis.

To ensure a healthy and safe return to campus, Auburn leadership has developed a re-entry plan to guide safety measures and new personal health precautions amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Auburn University asks all students, faculty, and staff to view and acknowledge a brief educational video regarding safety measures and how each of us is to do our part in supporting the safety of one another. All employees and students are required to view and acknowledge having seen the video before returning to on-campus activities or as soon as possible for those who have already returned to campus. To view the video and to submit your acknowledgment form, go here.

In the light of recent events of racial inequality and bigotry, President Gogue formed a group to identify ideas/initiatives to enhance diversity and inclusion for the university. Following his lead, I have also assembled a group of faculty, staff, and students who will consolidate our thoughts and develop/identify activities to promote diversity and inclusion within the school. Please join me in thanking the following individuals for their service to help us move the needle on this important issue. Representing the student body, are undergraduate student, Olivia Wilkes, and graduate student, Noel Perceval Assogba; representing staff members are, Michelle Cole and Michael Buckman; and representing faculty are, Drs. Maria Soledad Peresin and Robert Gitzen.

As many of you know, we have recently completed the hiring process for five faculty members. Joining us are Professor of Practice, Ms. Amy Counterman, Professor of Practice, Dr. Jessica Daniels; Assistant Professor of Forest Physiology/EcoPhysiology, Dr. Mike Aspinwall; Assistant Professor of Forest Ecology, Dr. Heather Alexander; and Assistant Professor of Wildlife and Extension Specialist, Mr. Wes Anderson. We would also like to welcome Dr. Shannon Brewer as the Alabama Cooperative Fish and Wildlife unit leader and professor. Thank you to our hiring committees and our faculty and staff for participating in the interview process and providing valuable feedback. We are very excited about the vast knowledge, skills, and experience these individuals will bring to diversify and expand our programs.

Finally, we are pleased to share that SFWS and Kreher Preserve and Nature Center (KPNC) leadership have chosen a conceptual design plan for a nature education center that will house the KPNC’s new Woodland Wonders Nature Preschool. The construction will be funded as part of a state allocation to Auburn University for cross-laminated timber (CLT) research and outreach. This 3,000 sq. ft. facility will feature an office and large classroom, educational exhibits, as well as decks and patios for outdoor activities. In addition to serving the preschool, the spaces can be enjoyed by day visitors for leisure, recreation, education, and interpretation. The nature center will also be available to the community for various uses, including school field trips, private meetings and events, workshops, seminars, and more.

Once again, I thank each of you for your continued patience and flexibility as we navigate these uncharted waters. Your perseverance and commitment are an inspiration to me, and I am proud to serve our great institution with you. Please enjoy a happy and safe Fourth of July holiday with your families!

Best regards,

Janaki R.R. Alavalapati, PhD
Dean, School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences
3301 Forestry and Wildlife Sciences Building
602 Duncan Drive, Auburn University
Auburn, Alabama 36849-3418
Phone: 334-844-1004

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