UTIA Appoints New Head of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture has named Don Hodges, currently the James R. Cox professor of forest economics and management, to lead the Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries. 

His appointment begins August 5.

Hodges, who earned his B.S. in forestry from the University of Tennessee and M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of Georgia, has served as a faculty member in the UT Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries since 1999. Before his appointment at UT, Hodges worked for the USDA Forest Service and served as a faculty member at the University of New Hampshire, Mississippi State University and Tulane University.

”Tennessee’s natural resources are an integral part of the state in terms of the diversity of ecosystems as well as their economic contributions to resource-based industries and tourism. They contribute to our Tennessee values and lifestyles, too,” said Hodges. “The Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries has always emphasized an interdisciplinary approach to natural resource use and management to protect our resources and values. With the increasing variety of demands being placed on these resources, I anticipate new challenges ahead to ensure that our teaching, extension, and research programs continue to serve the state effectively.”

Hodges is the recipient of the 2018 Distinguished Service Award from the International Society of Forest Resource Economics, and he was named a Fulbright Teaching and Research Scholar to Slovenia in 2011. He continues to work with scientists from the University of Ljubljana and the Slovenian Forestry Institute, including hosting visiting scientists and arranging for UT forestry students to have international experiences in Slovenia conducting research. He co-teaches a doctoral research methods course every spring at the University of Ljubljana with their faculty.

In 2009 Hodges was announced as a James R. Cox professor at UT Knoxville for his outstanding classroom teaching, scholarly work and campus and community leadership. 

A certified forester, Hodges is a member of the Forest Stewards Guild, the Society of American Foresters, the Tennessee Foresters Association and the American Economic Association. Earlier this year he was elected to a five-year term (2019-2024) to the Board of the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO), the world’s largest forestry research organization. His term will begin at the organization’s World Congress, scheduled for September 29 – October 5 in Curitiba, Brazil.

Dean of UT AgResearch Hongwei Xin said, “Dr. Hodges is a highly accomplished scholar and well-regarded leader at local, national and global levels. With his 20 years of service at UTIA in various faculty and administrative roles, he possesses a wealth of institutional knowledge that will serve this leadership role well. Don also has a proven track record of being an effective team builder. The UTIA Leadership Team looks forward to working with Dr. Hodges to advance the missions of the department and the Institute. We are also very grateful to Dr. Lisa Muller who has done an excellent job as the interim head.”

Muller, a professor of wildlife ecology and FWF graduate director, has been serving as interim department head the department since the departure of Keith Belli in 2018. Belli left the university to serve as dean of the Clemson College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences. 

The Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries is part of the Herbert College of Agriculture, UT AgResearch and UT Extension at the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture. The curricula focus on a mastery learning approach, emphasizing practical, hands-on experiences. FWF’s faculty, staff and students conduct research and extension that advances the science and sustainable management of our natural resources. For more information, visit fwf.tennessee.edu​.

Through its mission of research, teaching and extension, the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture touches lives and provides Real. Life. Solutions. ag.tennessee.edu.

Media Contact

Patricia McDaniels

UTIA Marketing and Communications



Don Hodges
Dean of UT AgResearch Hongwei Xin
Lisa Muller
Keith Belli