Wed, 27 Jul 2016 13:24:00 CDT — by: Sustain Sewanee
Committed to the ongoing development of the Domain as a national center for environmental learning, the university has appointed Kevin Hiers, C’96, director of environmental stewardship. As the chief administrator for the use of land beyond residential, commercial, and campus areas, Hiers will organize the growing scientific activity on the land beyond the center of campus. He will also, through planning and partnerships with other institutions, encourage and facilitate new projects that study the Domain for the public good.
The university’s legacy of environmental study of the Domain is long and storied. Students and faculty in archaeology, biology, forestry, geology, history, and religion—among others—have found the Domain a wonderfully accessible resource for research projects. Building on this legacy, the Sewanee Environmental Institute’s Pre-College Field Studies Program regularly brings to Sewanee some of the nation’s strongest high school students—many of whom, experiencing the range of what they can find at no other college, choose Sewanee. Similarly, Sewanee’s Field School in Archaeology, founded and led by Associate Professor of Environmental Studies Sarah Sherwood, offers a focused, immersive course for undergraduates, in which participants gain experience in prehistoric rockshelter and historic house excavation.
Provost John Swallow sees this new position as simply the next step in realizing the Domain’s exceptional potential. “For generations, the Domain has offered opportunities for the first-hand study of the environment that are available at no other liberal arts college,” he said. “The environmental richness and the sheer proximity of the land enable our students, mentored by faculty members, to develop deep skills that distinguish them from their peers, whether at scientific conferences or in the job market. The potential to develop further research opportunities on the Domain, and to be recognized widely for the nature of those opportunities, is significant for the university’s future. By creating this new position, the university is investing in further national distinction.”
Hiers will work as part of a recently formed Office of Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability that brings together several staff members toward common objectives. Professor Jon Evans, assistant provost for environmental stewardship and sustainability, is delighted by the addition of Hiers to the team. “Kevin Hiers’s expertise, long experience, and connections to professionals in the region and across the country are truly extraordinary," he said. "As the Domain gains greater regional and national recognition, he will be able to plan and administer the Domain so that faculty and students from Sewanee and beyond can make even greater advances in science and for the public good.” Rounding out the group are Nate Wilson, domain manager, who will assist Hiers in his efforts, and Marvin Pate, director of sustainability integration.
Before returning to Sewanee, Hiers was acting chief of the Wildland Fire Center, established in 2012 at Florida's Eglin Air Force Base as part of the Air Force Civil Engineer Center. In that capacity Hiers was responsible for overseeing all Air Force wildfire and prescribed burning activities on nine million acres of installations and ranges across the United States. Hiers developed and directed the ecological monitoring program at Eglin, and also secured more than $7 million in external funding for collaborative ecological research involving academic partners. Prior to his position at Eglin, he worked as a research ecologist for the Jones Ecological Research Center in Newton, Georgia. Hiers has published more than 40 scientific articles on ecological forestry, restoration of longleaf pine ecosystems, fire effects on wildlife habitat, fire behavior, and forest ecology.