Bill Park is a professor in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics.
His teaching and research have focused on the economics of natural resources and environmental policy. In 2009, he helped the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources establish the natural resource and environmental economics major after he and other CASNR faculty saw a growing interest from students.
In addition to teaching and advising in his department, Park wears two other hats. He is the director of the CASNR Farm Credit Scholars Program, which enriches the educational experience and fosters the professional development of future agricultural leaders in Tennessee.
He is also the director of undergraduate programs for the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy, where he assists Baker Scholars with their research projects on public policy and helps oversee the new minor in public policy analytics.
Park grew up in a midsize city in Indiana and had no background in agriculture. He studied economics as an undergraduate at DePauw University and learned more about agricultural economics as he approached graduation.
“I shifted to agricultural economics at the graduate level because of its more applied orientation and the greater opportunity to conduct policy research on natural resource conservation and environmental issues such as land use conflict, water quality, and waste management.”
He earned his master’s degree in agricultural economics from Purdue University and his doctorate in agricultural economics from Virginia Tech.
After completing his doctorate, Park was offered a job at UT and, he said, “the rest is history.”
An avid hiker, Park said he feels most alive when he’s out on the trail. Park has completed 550 of the roughly 800 miles of trails in the Smokies. His favorite trails take him up to Mount LeConte.
In 1993, Park had the opportunity to spend a year as a visiting professor at Oregon State University which allowed him the chance to hike in the West. Since then, he’s been back six times. He enjoys Mount Rainier and Olympic National Parks in Washington State.
If he didn’t do this
Among family, Park is infamous for his detailed travel plans. “My wife is fond of saying I’m a wannabe travel agent, because I love to plan trips.”
His family has a tradition of taking grandchildren on recreational and educational trips once they turn 10. So far, he and his wife, Anne, have taken grandchildren to see Niagara Falls, Monticello, and Nags Head, where the Wright Brothers took their first flight.
Advice to his college-age self
Park regrets not taking advantage of studying abroad. As an undergraduate advisor, he recommends his students look into study abroad opportunities.
In his office, he has a postcard from a current student studying in New Zealand. He says he’s vicariously living through his advisees.
“There’s a tendency for many students to say, ‘Tell me what I need to do to meet the requirements, get my degree, and get out of here,’ and life’s just too short to waste opportunities.”