Nicholas School Dean Alan Townsend to Take Leave of Absence

Jeffrey Vincent, Clarence F. Korstian Professor of Forest Economics and Management at the Nicholas School, will serve as interim dean.

Alan Townsend, dean of Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment, has announced he will take a leave of absence this fall for personal reasons.

Jeffrey Vincent, Clarence F. Korstian Professor of Forest Economics and Management at the Nicholas School, will serve as interim dean, Duke Provost Sally J. Kornbluth said.

“Alan has done a tremendous job over the past two years and the school is in a good place to move forward,” Kornbluth said. “President Brodhead and I are confident that Jeff, who has worked closely with Alan on many matters, will provide strong interim leadership that will allow the school to thrive.”

Vincent, who also serves as chair of the Nicholas School’s Division of Environmental Science and Policy and co-chair of the Master of Forestry program, will begin his interim duties effective immediately. Widely cited for his research and teaching on forest finance and the economics of natural resource management and policy, Vincent consults regularly with the World Bank and other international organizations, and has directed or worked on international projects in countries in Asia, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Central America.

Townsend, an ecosystem ecologist, has been the Nicholas School’s dean since July 2014.

“The past couple years have been by far the most challenging period of my life, given the unexpected illness and passing of my wife, Diana, combined with health challenges for my daughter, Neva,” Townsend wrote in an email to Nicholas School faculty and staff Monday morning. “This summer, new health issues have arisen, ones that will require focused attention in the coming months. I have discussed the situation with Provost Kornbluth and President Brodhead and, as always, they were exceptionally kind and supported and suggested that given the circumstances, I take a leave of absence for the fall term.”