The University Record, October 29, 1996

Granddaughter: Roosevelt would say pollution is 'soiling our nest'

Photo by Bob Kalmbach

By Mary Jo Frank
University Relations


If her grandfather, Teddy Roosevelt, were alive today, the amateur ornithologist would look upon the pollution of our water and air "as soiling our nest," conjectures Anna Curtenius Roosevelt.

Speaking at an Oct. 24 symposium celebrating the establishment of the Theodore Roosevelt Professorship in Ecosystem Management at the School of Natural Resources and the Environment, Anna Roosevelt said the nation's 24th president looked upon his conservation efforts as the most important part of his political legacy. Anna Roosevelt is curator of archaeology at the Field Museum of Natural History and professor of anthropology at the University of Illinois, Chicago.

Private property rights were not as defined in Theodore Roosevelt's mind as they are today, she said. He believed that all natural resources should be under the control of the people, that public benefits always should come before private benefits, and that the environment should be used but not used up.

The Theodore Roosevelt Professorship in Ecosystem Management was created as a result of a $1.2 million gift from Sally B. and William L. Searle of Northbrook, Ill.

The Searles asked that the professorship be named in honor of Roosevelt, whose vision led to the creation of national parks, game refuges, the National Forest Service, and an emphasis on the importance of the environment to America's future.

"With this named professorship we strengthen our efforts to promote the science, policy and management of ecosystems in the United States and internationally," said Provost J. Bernard Machen.

He said the Searles' goal and the University's intention is that the person who holds this named professorship will demonstrate the kind of bold leadership that Roosevelt offered to the nation and the field of conservation a century ago.

William Searle earned his undergraduate degree from LS&A in 1951. He was chairman of the board of the G.D. Searle Co. in 197277 and is now director of the Earl Kinship Capital Corp. He continues a tradition of supporting Michigan begun by his father John G. Searle, a 1923 graduate of the School of Pharmacy and the grandson of the founder of the pharmaceutical firm, G.D. Searle and Co.

Mack L. Hogans, an alumnus of the School of Natural Resources and Environment and senior vice president for corporate affairs for the Weyerhaeuser Co., talked about the importance of private sector efforts in the forest industry to minimize waste; protect air and water quality; maintain habitat for birds, fish and other wildlife; and prevent soil erosion. Weyerhaeuser is one of the largest corporate owners of forest land in the United States.

Noting that the world's population is now 5.7 billion people and growing rapidly, Hogans said 50 percent of all wood being harvested is used for fuel. Global companies with privately managed forests can play a key role in maintaining the world's renewable supply of wood, he added.

John C. Gordon, the Pinchot Professor at Yale University's School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, spoke to the more than 150 students, faculty and friends attending the symposium via film. Ecosystem management requires new styles of leadership, new approaches to conservation and restoration of resources, and an adaptive management style that looks beyond traditional boundaries, Gordon said.

"The challenges are abundant. So are the resources. My hope is that this new chair will catalyze a revolution," Gordon said.

School of Natural Resources and Environment Dean Daniel A. Mazmanian told the students they are "witnessing the beginning of an important intellectual resource in the School and the University. This chair is without peer or parallel so far as we know. Those who fill the chair will enrich and expand your education."

Noting that the study of natural resources and environmental problems at the U-M dates back to the late 1880s, interim President Homer A. Neal said, "Today, Michigan is a leader in bringing together science with natural resources and environmental policy and management. The School a pioneer in the development of the scientific understanding of ecosystems is uniquely qualified to take on interdisciplinary work in the area of ecosystem management.