Thursday, August 11, 2016

Paul Marcotte, former IRRI Training Center head, passes away

Dr. Paul Marcotte (at right in photo), who headed the Training Center of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) at the turn of the century, passed away unexpectedly on Sunday (7 August) in Parkdale, Oregon, 3 weeks short of his 70th birthday.

He died peacefully in his sleep after a weekend full of fun and adventure on the farm in Parkdale and cycling in the Columbia Gorge with family and friends—his favorite retirement activities.

In the photo, taken at IRRI in 2000, Marcotte confers on delivering new rice technology to farmers with Mark Bell, then head of IRRI’s International Programs Management Office.

In 2000-02, Marcotte began a revolutionary effort to revitalize and streamline IRRI’s Training Center. He led the development of a strategic plan for the institute's training activities, which conceptualized the Knowledge Pathways Initiative. This resulted in the harnessing of new modes of delivery for training materials in the digital age—ultimately leading to today’s Rice Knowledge Bank.

As head of the IRRI Training Center, he was eager to create a “university without walls” to deliver rice information to a far wider range of students, extension personnel, and farmers. In IRRI’s 2001 annual report, Marcotte lamented, “I can’t personally reach every farmer in Asia, but I can get to anyone who owns or can beg, hire, or borrow a personal computer with Internet access. We’re not bound by the walls of a classroom anymore.”

Marcotte, who worked at the University of California, Davis, from 1994 to 2011, had a masters degree in agricultural economics from Texas A&M University and a PhD in rural sociology and international development from the University of Kentucky. At U.C. Davis, he taught in the International Agriculture Development (IAD) and Community Development (CD) programs, directed international programs, and was an academic administrator for both the Chancellor’s Office of University Outreach and International Programs and the Dean’s Office of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. He had been selected as “Teacher of the Year” for both the IAD and CD programs.

While at U.C. Davis, he was also the chair and vice chair of the IAD Graduate Group, director of the Humphrey Fellows Program, and director of the Indian TNAU/UC Davis Scientific Exchange Program.

In addition to his work at U.C. Davis and time at IRRI (2000-02 and 2004), Marcotte was a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer in Thailand, a Rockefeller Fellow, and head of training at the International Service to National Agricultural Research (ISNAR) in The Netherlands. He also taught field courses in Thailand, India, Panama, and Mexico.

Those who have a favorite photo or memory involving Marcotte are welcome to post it on the Facebook page of the Humphrey Fellows Program. The material will be forwarded to his family.

Condolence messages may also be sent to Paul Marcotte's family, via his nephew, Joe Marcotte, at or to Joe at 7735 Baseline Rd. Mount Hood Parkdale, OR 97041.

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