The Charles O. and Mary Minor Forestry Professorship
Dr. Charles Minor was the founder and first professor of NAU’s School of Forestry. Dr. Minor’s family established the Charles O. and Mary Minor Forestry Professorship to honor both Dr. Minor and his wife Mary, as well as their contributions to the School of Forestry and the community of Flagstaff.
Mary and Charles (Chuck) Minor approached life as a team. Both had humble beginnings in rural Iowa. At the end of the Great Depression both families cobbled together funding so that each could attend Iowa State University. They met in college and after graduation expected to marry. WWII temporarily interrupted their wedding plans as Chuck enlisted and Mary worked for the war effort in Washington D.C.
During the war, Mary lived with Chuck’s aunt and uncle who were Quakers. This exposure to Quakerism had a profound and lasting influence on both of them, as they became Quakers and applied Quaker principles of simplicity, community, equality and nonviolence throughout their lives. This was expressed through their teaching, counseling and mentoring, and involvement in community affairs. Mary and Chuck were particularly known for their focus on students, taking a genuine interest in their lives and careers and keeping in touch with them.
After their marriage Chuck earned a Masters and PhD at Duke University, taught at Louisiana State University and Clemson University and worked in private industry. Mary managed the household affairs, worked part time, looked after their two daughters, and continued her community involvement.
In 1958, J. Lawrence Walkup was named president of then Arizona State College (now NAU). One of Walkup’s first actions was to propose a forestry school. Once approved by the Arizona Board of Regent, Chuck received a call from President Walkup in the spring of 1958. He was offered the job of starting the forestry program in Flagstaff. Chuck accepted and the family (including their third daughter) moved to Flagstaff in August. Chuck began teaching the first forestry classes in September.
The first forestry class had 35 students and one professor—Chuck Minor. In January of 1959, a second professor was hired. For 10 years, the forestry school enrollment and curriculum expanded. In 1968, the program was first accredited by the Society of American Foresters. It was a fairly conventional program with a field work component and offered majors in forest management, wood utilization, forest recreation and range management.
In reviewing the program, Chuck recognized there was a lot of overlap in coursework, and only 6-9 hours differentiating the majors. He proposed the need for a change to the forestry faculty. The faculty asked for a little time to discuss the idea, and in a few days came back with a head of steam and request to structure a more integrated curriculum. In 1972, the new forestry curriculum was started. The program has been revised and changed some over the years to respond to emerging needs in forestry, but much of the original idea has continued.
Creativity, foresight, solid relationships and strong connections with students are passed on with the establishment of the Mary and Charles Minor Endowed Chair.
Charles O. and Mary Minor Professors of Forestry
January 2019 – present: Peter Z. Fulé