2010 HONOREE – William F. Watson, Jr.


William Watson is not only a charter member of COFE, but has had a stellar career in forest harvesting and engineering as an educator, researcher, and industrial technical management and sales.  His career combines practical and academic experiences that resulted in many contributions to and support of the forest engineering profession and to COFE as well.  His achievements include pioneering research, enlightening students and enriching their careers, and investing in the profession through involvement and leadership.

Dr. Watson reached the rank of Professor over a 22-year distinguished career at Mississippi State University in the Department of Forestry.  He went on to serve 10 years with a forest industry as Director of fiber supply.  He ended his career after serving for 3 years as regional sales manager for a chipper company.  His formal training included a B.S. and M.S. from the University and Georgia and Ph.D. from North Carolina State University.  He taught Forest Operations and Timber Harvesting, Forest Practices and Utilization, and Timber Procurement.  His research areas of interest were production and modeling of forest operations, wood utilization, and chipping and chip quality.

He has a long history of service to COFE: serving as chair, program chair, policy chair, and on the awards committee.  Dr. Watson has attended most COFE meetings since its inception and has provided studious and meritorious service as well as a large measure of jollity on many occasions. In addition to COFE he provided leadership in the Society of American Foresters, Forest Products Society, TAPPI, International Energy Agency, and other professional societies and technical groups.

Much can be said of his contributions and accomplishments. His research was always “problem solving” oriented, and usually involved a hands-on approach to both the understanding of the problem and discovery of the solution. Even with this practical approach, Dr. Watson pioneered high-quality, scholarly scientific methods using adapted statistical applications to solve difficult timber harvesting problems. Even though he had an outstanding research career, his most significant accomplishments has been in his teaching and training.  He brought the hands-on approach to the classroom and more importantly to the field workshop.  His harvesting classes were legendary, but provided students with both a working knowledge and appreciation for timber harvesting.  His ability to take the science to the working person has been exemplary.  His list of graduate students is lengthy as well as noteworthy.