With our deepest gratitude we celebrate the exceptional leadership and accomplishments of Dr. John Innes who has served as Dean of the Faculty of Forestry for the past 11 years (July 1st, 2010 to August 31st, 2021). UBC Forestry has seen outstanding transformations over the past decade, however, there are a number of significant successes and achievements that John and the Faculty should be very proud of.
Under John’s leadership, the Faculty has taken significant steps towards broadening the curricula and academic content to reflect changing realities in many areas of study; responding to societal needs and emerging economies. This expansion has also enhanced interdisciplinary and continuing education for forestry professionals and scholars from around the world.
The Faculty saw the creation of two new undergraduate programs during his tenure; the Bachelor of Urban Forestry and most recently the accredited Bachelor of Science in Forest Bioeconomy Sciences and Technology (BEST). Four new course-based Master’s programs were introduced in the areas of Sustainable Forest Management, International Forestry, Geomatics and Environmental Management, and Urban Forestry Leadership.
Since 2011, student enrollment numbers have soared exponentially. When John began his first term as Dean in July 2010, there were 244 graduate students and 589 undergraduate students. Today, there are 350 graduate students and almost 1,200 undergraduate students, that is double the numbers of undergraduate students. Only in the 90’s has the Faculty seen such a rapid enrolment growth within a decade.
John came into his role with strong global interests and influences and with one-third of the world’s landmass being forest he has always viewed it through this lens. These internationalization efforts have raised the Faculty’s profile and it is now recognized as a world leader in forestry education and research. John has also fostered engagement with Indigenous communities across BC and the Yukon and worked closely with the Faculty’s First Nations Council of Advisors (FNCOA).
Close collaborations have been built with the Asia-Pacific Network for Sustainable Forest Management and Rehabilitation. This generated numerous collaborative research projects with Asian partners; and led to the creation of the Faculty’s Asia Forest Research Centre in 2017. Agreements were made with several Chinese forestry universities creating opportunities for student mobility; and the TRANSFOR-M program that allows graduate students to achieve double Master’s degrees with a number of European universities. Field schools to India with the Wildlife Institute of India were introduced, and the Faculty is currently developing emerging relationships with multiple international research bodies.
The Faculty was also established as the lead academic partner in the Haida Gwaii Higher Education Society, that later evolved into establishing the Haida Gwaii Institute within UBC. In 2018 communications began with West Bank First Nation around the creation of an Indigenous Land Stewardship program and facility to house a new undergraduate programme and associated scholarly activity. John will continue to lead this particular project after he steps down as dean. And in 2019 the Faculty purchased a property in Williams Lake with a vision to create a new research and education centre and to house the Alex Fraser Research Forest offices.
John has also been committed to the development and alumni engagement activities of the Faculty. Without the support of donors and without the engagement of the alumni community the Faculty would not have been able to achieve all that it has. During his tenure more than $40 million has been raised. And almost $2.9M of that has been specifically for undergraduate and graduate scholarships, bursaries and awards raised through the UBC Blue & Gold Campaign for students. In 2014, John and his wife Jill chose to support the university by leaving a legacy gift to the Faculty; establishing an award to support the recruitment and retention of Aboriginal forestry students, the John and Jill Innes Aboriginal Award in Forestry. John felt aboriginal students were underrepresented in the Faculty and hoped that establishing the award would inspire other to do the same. Under John’s leadership, the Faculty also hired its first dedicated Alumni Engagement Manager in 2010. In 2011 the Faculty was engaging approximately 900 alumni in the life of the Faculty. Today, over 2,200 alumni connect with their alma matter annually.
John has demonstrated tremendous leadership during the last 11 years. Because of his steadfast dedication, strong tenacity and strategic vision, UBC has changed the face of forestry education to address global realities, and place the UBC Faculty of Forestry at the forefront as a worldwide leader.
If you are interested in making a gift in honour of John’s time as Dean and to recognize his work to help build a thriving Faculty of Forestry then please see the following link for more information: https://give.ubc.ca/projects/john-and-jill-innes-aboriginal-award/. Thank you for your consideration in honouring John (and supporting our students!) in this way.