Los Baños, Philippines - The Board of Trustees of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) this afternoon concluded a packed three-day agenda, again fulfilling its mandate of setting the strategic direction of the institute and securing the future of its mission.
IRRI chief Robert Zeigler said during the closing session that it was "an unbelievable honor to have known and worked with the board members through the years." This was Zeigler's 22nd, and last, board meeting after serving as director general and trustee for a full decade.
Zeigler shared that the "invaluable guidance IRRI senior management receives from the board is something most people don't see. Proposals are very thoughtfully vetted... and without exception, the product is better for it."
Board chair Emerlinda Roman reported to staff that IRRI's resource mobilization efforts will be brought into high gear to make up for significant reductions in funding to the CGIAR. She mentioned that, at the consortium level, changes in the governance structure will be implemented in 2016 and that a financing plan will seek to address funding shortfalls.
Roman announced that the board's priorities in this challenging environment are to protect IRRI's core activities and science quality, and that adequate reserves are maintained. She also said that the trustees "were very pleased with the presentations during the program committee sessions and noted the excellence, dedication, and enthusiasm of the IRRI staff and the impact of the research they are doing."
Roman officially announced the transition from Zeigler to incoming director general and current deputy director general for research Matthew Morell in December. The board also approved the development of a new ten-year strategic plan (2016-2025), which Morell will lead.
Outgoing board members Robert Zeigler, P. Stephen Baenziger, Huqu Zhai, and Joyce Kikafunda were each acknowledged for their service and contribution to IRRI. Incoming trustees—Karen Moldenhauer, Bernadette Ndabinkunze, and Jiayang Li—were also announced. Akinori Noguchi, Tahlim Sudaryanto, and Suthad Setboonsarn have been reappointed to serve another six years on the board.
In her farewell message, Kikafunda said that she had learned much during her six-year "tour of duty" and urged IRRI staff to continue doing great science. She then asked her youngest daughter to join her up on stage and announced that Blessing, now three-and-a-half years old, "is an IRRI baby."