By STEVEN NALLEY
Mississippi State University will host Mark E. Rey, a former senior administrator with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, for its 2012 Carlton N. Owen Lecture Series Tuesday at 10 a.m. in the Franklin Center for Furniture Manufacturing and Management’s auditorium.
From 2001 to 2009, Rey served as undersecretary for natural resources and environment, and he currently serves as a public affairs consultant and executive-in-residence at Michigan State University.
Before becoming undersecretary, Rey spent nearly 20 years working for several timber trade organizations and served on the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources from 1995-2001.
Rick Kaminski, associate dean of Mississippi State’s Forest and Wildlife Research Center, said Rey has a strong relationship with Mississippi State and its top administration.
“He’s a close colleague and acquaintance with (Mississippi State President Mark) Keenum,” Kaminski said. “They both worked on the hill together in (Washington,) D.C. Mark Rey now teaches a summer internship course in Washington, D.C. for Michigan State and Mississippi State students.”
Rubin Shmulsky, Mississippi State FWRC head, said Rey’s summer course immerses students in political science, and it is one of several cooperative projects between Rey and Mississippi State.
“(For instance,) we are working with him on a lumber and timber evaluation project,” Shmulsky said.
A Mississippi State press release says Rey will discuss challenges forestry faces, including land ownership, industry governance and financial support for forest research. Shmulsky said the College of Forest Resources works with the lecture series’ speaker each year to develop a topic.
“We try to identify a topic that would be of broad interest to individuals throughout the college but also outside the College of Forest Resources,” Shmulsky said. “That topic will combine economics, policy and the environment and hopefully attract (audiences) across several different colleges.”
The Owen Lecture Series happens once each calendar year, Shmulsky said, but last year’s lecture was moved from the spring to the fall semester. Karen Brasher, marketing coordinator for Mississippi State’s college of forest resources, said past guests include Tom Ryder, president of The Wildlife Society, in 2011 and Dick Molpus, former Mississippi secretary of state, in 2010.
Shmulsky said, “We try to bring prominent individuals from the forestry and environmental community.”
Brasher said the lecture series is named for Carlton Owen, a 1974 alumnus of Mississippi State. He currently works to bring businesses and the environment together as a consultant, she said.
“He’s also served (with) many non-profit organizations on their boards,” Brasher said. “He started the lecture series so we could bring in national speakers to discuss conservation issues.”