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Henry Howard “Hank” Chamberlin is considered to be the father of forestry education in Arkansas. He began the forestry department at Arkansas Agricultural & Mechanical College (A&M)—now the University of Arkansas at Monticello (UAM)—in September 1945 with three students. From this humble beginning came the School of Forest Resources at UAM and the Arkansas Forest Resources Center of Excellence. The School of Forest Resources at UAM is the only forestry school in Arkansas.
Hank Chamberlin was born on March 8, 1913, in Palmerton, Pennsylvania, to William Chamberlin and Ellen Reed Chamberlin; his father worked as a barber. He was the youngest of four children. After high school, Chamberlin attended Pennsylvania State University and received his BS in forestry. He received his Master’s of Forestry at Yale University in 1940.
Chamberlin was working at Louisiana State University as the head of the forestry program when he was offered a position at A&M. Arriving in 1945, he was charged with beginning a two-year forestry program there. He said that he would stay one year. After moving to Monticello (Drew County), Chamberlin met and married Marjorie Mignon Norton Lamb; she already had a son, but the couple had no children together.
Beginning a forestry school was not an easy task. There was no money for equipment and no classroom space. Chamberlin lived in one of the dormitories and ate his meals in the cafeteria as part of his salary. The forestry school was given some space on the third floor of the Memorial Classroom Building on campus and began with three students. The number of students had grown to fifty-seven by the end of the first semester and continued to increase. Budget issues were always a problem; Chamberlin and other professors paid out of pocket for things such as paper and postage. They had to justify every purchase that was made for the forestry school.
Chamberlin remained with the program as head of the forestry school until 1972 and taught until 1980. He taught every student who came through the program during his time as head of the school. Chamberlin had a great sense of humor. For instance, part of dendrology was to identify a tree by its branch, and Chamberlin would sometimes glue a pinecone to an oak limb to trick the students. Prior to the retirement banquet held for Chamberlin, many students sent letters stating that he had been a very important influence in their lives.
The forestry school became a four-year school in 1950. The Society of American Foresters gave the forestry program full accreditation in 1984. In 1995, the building that housed the School of Forest Resources was named the Henry H. Chamberlin Forest Resources Complex in Chamberlin’s honor. The forestry school that Chamberlin began has had a major economic impact on the area it serves.
Chamberlin died from a heart attack on October 26, 1998. He is buried next to his wife at Leek Cemetery in Star City (Lincoln County).
For additional information:
“Founder of UAM Forestry School Dies.” Advance Monticellonian, November 4, 1998, pp. 1A, 14A.
Obituary of Henry Chamberlin. Advance Monticellonian, November 4, 1998, p. 5A.
School of Forestry and Natural Resources, University of Arkansas at Monticello. http://www.uamont.edu/pages/department/school-forest-resources/ (accessed March 18, 2016).
School of Forestry and Natural Resources Record Group, Subgroup: Henry Howard “Hank” Chamberlin, box 1. Fred J. Taylor Library Archives, University of Arkansas at Monticello, Monticello, Arkansas.
University of Arkansas at Monticello
Last Updated 3/18/2016
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