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A non-profit publication of the Office of the University Relations of Virginia Tech,
including The Conductor, a special section of the Spectrum printed 4 times a year

Cartwright returns to present 125th Anniversary lecture

By Lynn Davis

Spectrum Volume 20 Issue 17 - January 22, 1998

Charles "Chip" A. Cartwright, regional forester for the Southwestern Region of the U.S. Forest Service, will speak on "The Workplace Glass Ceiling" as part of the Outstanding Alumni Speakers Series Tuesday, Feb. 17 at 7:30 p.m. in Squires' Old Dominion Ballroom. A reception will follow the lecture, which is open to the public.
Virginia Tech is featuring an alumni lecture each month to celebrate its 125th anniversary this school year. The alumnus representative for the College of Forestry and Wildlife Resources, Cartwright said, "The college provided me with a learner's permit for a successful journey."
Cartwright is proud of the fact that he is the first African-American regional forester in the history of the federal agency. Three years ago he was promoted from assistant director for ecosystem management in the Washington, D.C., office, and now oversees 11 national forests and three national grasslands in Arizona and New Mexico.
One of nine regional foresters, he assumed the position following a 26-year agency career hallmarked by exceptional service. The 1970 alumnus served as forest supervisor of the Jefferson National Forest in Virginia, where he had set another record as being the first African-American supervisor of a forest.
When he came to Virginia Tech from Petersburg to study forestry, "It was the first time I was in a predominantly white society," he recalled. "And I discovered the tools within myself to overcome obstacles, even bigotry, to achieve in the real world."
"I struggled. College was not easy for me," he adds. "But the Corps of Cadets was very helpful. It taught me teamwork, and I certainly grew from that experience. I learned that leaders take risks and lead from the front, as opposed from behind."
He credits that training as enabling him to move the national forests into the new concepts of ecosystem management so that holistic approaches would begin driving policies.