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NRM Program History


The Natural Resources Management (NRM) program was initiated in 1974 by Dr. Warren Whitman (1911-1994) of the then Range Science Unit in the Botany Department of the College of Science & Mathematics and Dr. Enoch Norum (1909-1998) Leader of the Soils Section in the Agronomy Department, currently the Plant Sciences Department in the College of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Natural Resources.  NRM was initially presented as an interdisciplinary graduate program offering a Master of Science (MS) degree. In these early years of NRM, the main focus was on Biotic Resource Sciences and Soil / Earth Sciences including an association with Agricultural Economics.  

Dr. Whitman actively served at NDSU from 1938 to 1976, where he is remembered as: “The father of Range Science in North Dakota.” He was named full professor of Botany in 1951. From 1963 to 1967 he served as the Chair of the Division of Natural Sciences and from 1972 to 1976 he served as the Chair of the Department of Botany.  Although Dr. Whitman officially retired from NDSU in 1976, he was actively involved and continued his research until 1993.


Dr. Norum actively served at NDSU from 1947 to 1975.  When the Soils Section was designated a department in 1959, Dr. Norum became Chair of the Department of Soil Science where he served from 1959 to 1975.

In 1974, Dr. Harold Goetz was appointed Director of NRM at which time he was also serving as the Director of Tri-College University Center of Environmental Studies.  Dr. Goetz joined NDSU in 1964 where he served as a Range Scientist in the Department of Botany, becoming Department Chair from 1976 to 1985.  Dr. Goetz left NDSU in 1985 to assume the position of Chair in the Range Science Department at Colorado State University.

The first graduate of the NRM Master of Science program was Dr. Jay Leitch who completed his MS in NRM in 1976, completed his PhD at the University of Minnesota, and later became NRM Program Director in 1985. While Dr. Leitch was Director of NRM the undergraduate program was initiated in 1994, as an interdisciplinary Bachelor of Science (BS) program. The initial idea for an undergraduate program in NRM was suggested by Dr. Arthur Boe, of the then Horticulture Department, in the College of Agriculture, during the early 1990’s. The idea for an undergraduate degree was eventually developed under the directorship of Dr. Leitch (Department of Agricultural Economics) and the NRM Coordinating Committee.  The NRM Undergraduate Program broadened its interdisciplinary structure by officially establishing three emphasis areas:  Biotic Resource Sciences, Soils / Earth Sciences, and Social Sciences. During 1997 Dr. Leitch assumed the position of Interim Dean of the College of Business, he would accept the position of Dean of the College in 1999.

Dr. Carolyn Grygiel was appointed NRM Program Director in 1998.  The program was housed in the then Department of Animal & Range Sciences, because Dr. Grygiel was a faculty member in the department.  At the time, NRM was a small, virtual program, but with the leadership of Dr. Grygiel, support of the NRM Coordinating Committee, Department Chair of Animal & Range Sciences, Dean of the College of Agriculture, Food Systems, & Natural Resources, and the University Provost, NRM would undergo several degrees of evolution, change, and development toward becoming the internationally recognized interdisciplinary program it is today. 
Upon assuming the NRM Program Directorship, Dr. Grygiel’s immediate priorities were: (1) student recruitment to increase program enrollment; (2) curriculum enhancement.  Student recruitment and program growth was greatly enhanced by development of the first NRM webpage that was designed and web-mastered by Dr. Grygiel.  In November 2012, she retied from NDSU and the NRM program and relocated to the west coast where she is involved in consulting work.

In January, 2013, Dr. Edward (Shawn) DeKeyser accepted the position of the Natural Resources Management Program Leader.  Dr. DeKeyser will also continue his work with the Range Science Program.

Faculty and Staff

Jack Norland, Ph.D., became the first NRM designated full-time faculty member.  Dr. Norland joined NRM in July 2008.

Christina L.M. Hargiss, Ph.D., joined the School of Natural Resource Sciences as an NRM designated faculty in November 2010.  Dr. Hargiss took the position of Assistant Professor of Practice with the NRM Program in 2011.

Bruce Steele, Ph.D., was appointed Affiliate Faculty member in 2015.  He continues to serve as Program Assistant / Academic Adviser for NRM and Range Science, a new position created in January 2014.  He is a graduate of the NRM Interdisciplinary Program with an emphasis in Environmental Sociology. 


Dr. Bruce Steele

The first NRM staff member hired in 2001 was Sharon Hilber who joined NRM as the NRM Program Assistant.  The year 2001 also marked the year of the second NRM Program Review to earn a "10" rating.  Sharon retired from NDSU in 2007.

The second NRM staff member was hired in 2004.  Gretchen Bromley joined NRM as the Student Services Coordinator until leaving the program in 2007.

Barbara Magnusson joined NRM as the new NRM Program Assistant in 2007.  Barbara was instrumental in creating NRM marketing programs. She retired from NDSU and the NRM program in 2014.

Program Notes

The Doctor of Philosophy degree in NRM was approved by the State Board of Higher Education in 2002. 

The School of Natural Resources was approved by the State Board of Higher Education in 2004.  The concept was developed and the School of Natural Resources was founded by Dr. Carolyn Grygiel.

Student Focused. Land Grant. Research University.

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For more information on Natural Resources Management
at North Dakota State University, contact:
Shawn DeKeyser, Ph.D.
Program Leader - Natural Resources Management Interdiscliplinary Program
307A Morrill Hall
Shawn DeKeyser

Last Updated: Friday, February 19, 2016 9:11:12 AM
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