OSU welcomes Jim Ansley as new NREM department head
Ansley joins the Oklahoma State University family from an off-campus research and Extension center in the Texas A&M system to become the head of OSU’s Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management. After 32 years of range research in Texas, Ansley is excited to see what Oklahoma is all about.
“I loved Laramie, Wyoming, where I received my Ph.D. (University of Wyoming, agronomy), but the winters were a bit too long for me,” he said. “I really liked the winters in Vernon, Texas, where I worked with Texas A&M, but the summer heat seemed to go on for longer than I liked. So, I am looking forward to something in the middle.”
Growing up in Denver, Colorado, Ansley developed a fondness of the outdoors and a knack for golfing. During a regular bike ride to the golf course with a high school friend, Ansley recalled coasting down a hill on a paved country road with their golf bags slung over their shoulders.
“I was following my friend, Mark, on this day,” he said. “I noticed his bag began to shift and pretty soon tipped to the point where the clubs slipped out.”
When one of those clubs went through the spokes of his friend’s rear wheel, the bike, rider and all, came crashing down.
“The view from that point was an explosion of golf and bicycle parts all over the road,” Ansley said. “Fortunately, the road was free of traffic and he was not hurt. But the view from my side at least was spectacular.”
At some point after that incident, Ansley decided biking and/or golfing may be too dangerous of a future, and he began centering his focus and passion for the outdoors on academics. He received a bachelor’s degree in biology from Hastings College in Nebraska and a Master’s of Science degree in range science from Utah State University.
Immediately following his Ph.D. in 1983, Ansley began his career in research with the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station. Four promotions later, and earning the title of Regents Professor from Texas A&M AgriLife Research, Ansley begins his tenure at OSU.
“Dr. Ansley’s career has prepared him very well to take this important role in working with our most valuable resource, the students,” said Tom Coon, vice president, Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources. “We are very fortunate to attract the best faculty to the natural resource ecology and management department and under the direction of Dr. Ansley, our students, and the cutting-edge programs directed by our faculty, will continue to excel.”
Interaction with students was a major driving force in Ansley’s decision to transplant his family to Stillwater. However, his wife Teresa and their two daughters, Beth and Caitlin, are eager to put down roots in Middle America.
“It was a difficult decision to leave but we were wanting to get closer to a university environment and get back to the excitement of being with students,” he said. “I was very interested in the diversity of expertise within the NREM department. It seems like a great fit for the things I am most interested from a research, teaching and Extension standpoint.”
While Ansley has only been officially on the job since March 14, he has already developed a great appreciation for the work done at OSU, and in NREM in particular.
“I was familiar with the excellent range research and Extension program here, but I have been delighted to find such tremendous expertise in the wildlife, forestry and fisheries areas as well,” he said. “Plus, we have a growing ecohydrology group that is adding a new and important dimension to the department.”
What he may not know, yet, is OSU boasts one of the most successful golf programs in the country and he can live vicariously through their successes.
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