Thursday, February 5, 2015

Dr. Andrew Colin McClung, former IRRI associate director, passes away


Dr. Andrew Colin McClung (92), 2006 World Food Prize Laureate, passed away in Groton, New York, USA, on 2 February 2015. In the early days, he was IRRI's first assistant director (1964-66) and second associate director (1967-71). As associate director, he was responsible for IRRI's training and international outreach activities.

Dr. McClung (at left in this 1960s photo with IRRI’s first Director General Robert Chandler) arrived at IRRI in August 1964 with his family. With degrees in soil science from the University of West Virginia (BS 1947) and Cornell University (MS 1949, PhD 1950), Dr. McClung had extensive experience with tropical soils, especially in the Cerrado of Brazil. His work there would eventually land him a share of the 2006 World Food Prize.

His contributions to IRRI’s success during its first decade were substantial. He ran the Saturday seminars (yes, believe or not, all staff were expected to attend Saturday morning seminars in those days) and administered the training program until 1967. According to Dr. Chandler in his book, An Adventure in Applied Science, McClung’s capabilities in developing a sizable and effective outreach program were especially outstanding. For example, during the year it took to get the Indian program into operation, McClung traveled in India with a USAID representative working out the details with government authorities in that country. He also cooperated closely with the Ford Foundation in its rice programs in Asia.

At IRRI, Dr. McClung interviewed and recommended most of the people who would ultimately fill the posts in the Institute’s outreach programs during the 1960s. According to Chandler, McClung was articulate, warm, and quietly humorous, meeting people well and impressing them, not only with his pleasing personality and unmistakable trustworthiness but with his logical thinking. It was not surprising to Chandler that he left IRRI in 1971 to accept the position of deputy director-general of CIAT in Colombia and then later joining the New York office of the Rockefeller Foundation in 1973. When International Agricultural Development Service (IADS) was formed in 1975-76 with initial support from the Rockefeller Foundation, McClung was invited to become its executive officer, and in 1979 he was named president of that organization.

As pointed out by W. Shaw Reid, Cornell professor emeritus of crops and soil sciences, in a 2006 Cornell Chronicle article, “Dr. McClung won the World Food Prize because his research in Brazil permitted the opening of an area larger than the total cropland of the United States to intensive agricultural production—and it has stood the test of time."

We do not yet have any information about a memorial service or other arrangements. Should you wish to send messages of condolence to Dr. McClung's wife, Margo, she can be reached at the following address:

Margo McClung
Groton Community Healthcare Center
120 Sykes Street, Room 220
Groton, NY 13073

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