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Professor Appointed Spicer Chair in Environment and Natural Resources at UW

December 17, 2009
Steve Smutko

The University of Wyoming received a boost in its collaborative process efforts with the hiring of Steve Smutko as the new Wyoming Excellence Spicer Distinguished Chair in Environment and Natural Resources -- a first of its kind in the nation devoted to collaborative decision-making.

Smutko in January will join the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, in addition to his role as UW's Spicer Chair, based in the Haub School and Ruckelshaus Institute of Environment and Natural Resources (ENR).

"Support for launching the position came from the Excellence in Higher Education Endowment," says Nicole Ballenger, UW associate provost. "In keeping with the goals of the endowment program, the position expands university research and outreach in disciplines related to economic and social challenges facing Wyoming."

Smutko has worked since 1995 as an extension specialist in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at North Carolina State University in Raleigh and at the same time served as North Carolina Natural Resources Leadership Institute director. His research interests include natural resources and environmental economics, public decision-making and negotiation.

"I am excited to join a faculty that shares my academic interests and aspirations and to enter a work environment that promotes contributions to scholarship and practice in the fields of collaborative decision-making and community development," Smutko says.

He has worked with local governments, state and federal agencies and others for more than a decade to effectively involve citizens in environmental policy issues.

"Steve has extensive experience and a worldwide reputation in collaborative decision-making and community development," says Frank Galey, UW College of Agriculture dean. "The university and Wyoming will greatly benefit from a UW program in collaborative process and with Steve leading this effort."

Beverly Spicer of Rock Springs endowed the ENR program, which led to the establishment of the Spicer Chair. The endowment was established in memory of her husband Eldon, who advocated for stakeholder involvement and consensus building to resolve land use issues.

The Spicer Chair, created to link teaching, outreach and research in collaborative processes, will reach all disciplines in natural resource science and policy, says Indy Burke, ENR director.

"Steve is familiar and experienced with the important issues facing the state and the West," she says. "He not only will be a member of our team, but an integral part of our campus community, representing the university and bringing effective collaborative processes to the state's citizens and decision makers."

Smutko received his Ph.D. (1995) in economics with a specialization in resource economics at Auburn University in Alabama, an M.S. (1982) in community and regional planning at North Dakota State University, and a B.S. (1978) in outdoor recreation from Colorado State University.

He has written numerous publications on conflict resolution and citizen participation and has also taught in those areas. Smutko has directed many natural resource public policy projects plus conferences, trainings and workshops on consensus building. He has received several honors and awards in extension education.

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