New Director General Marco Wopereis takes the helm of the World Vegetable Center
Board Chairman Yu-Tsai Huang officially handed over the leadership of the World Vegetable Center from outgoing Director General Dyno Keatinge to new DG Marco Wopereis in a ceremony on Wednesday, 20 April 2016 at headquarters. Board members and observers, invited guests, and staff filled the auditorium to witness this transition in the Center’s history.
Human Resources Director I.R. Nagaraj opened the event with a call to remember the previous directors general and their legacies. Board Chair Yu-Tsai Huang recounted Dyno’s achievements, including decentralization to build the Center’s reputation as a global institute, and the reinvigoration of programs, especially breeding and home gardens. He then welcomed Marco and his family to their new home in Taiwan, and pledged the board’s full support. Michael Hsu, Director General of International Organizations, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, thanked Dyno for drawing attention to the importance of vegetables, and for supporting and speaking up for Taiwan in international fora.
Board vice-chair David Sammons spoke of his high regard for the World Vegetable Center, which evolved from the many opportunities he has had to work closely with Dyno over the years. “Dyno has sought to expand the Center, raise its visibility, and enlarge its budget,” Dr. Sammons said. “He has worked tirelessly for the Center, and we are most appreciative of his effort.”
Nominations Committee Chair Emmy Simmons, Program Committee Chair Jim Phelan, and Audit Committee Chair Jon Wilkinson also shared their experiences and interactions with Dyno, emphasizing his passion for vegetables as the best means to increase farmers’ incomes and improve nutrition for the poor, especially women and children.
Tomato breeder Peter Hanson gave remarks on behalf of the Center’s researchers and staff. He recalled how strongly Dyno advocated for scientists’ work in conferences and other fora: “It meant a lot to me to know that my DG stood side-by-side with me and my colleagues in our struggles to fund research to fight tospoviruses and other plant diseases on behalf of farmers,” he said. He noted Dyno supported new, unproven research that has since produced valuable results, for instance, high throughput genotyping. “Dyno invested in the future,” he said.
There was a formal handover, from Dyno to Marco, of a red silk Chinese box containing a symbolic key to the Center, flags, and a chop (a stone seal engraved with the Center’s name in Chinese characters for officially stamping documents).
Dyno then made his farewell remarks, opening with a comment about his affection and admiration for Taiwan, and an expression of his gratitude for the country’s ongoing support of the Center. He thanked the board and his management colleagues for their guidance and advice during his eight years as DG. He also praised the Center’s staff as people who work in a truly professional manner, with great dedication. “I know all Center staff will to work together with Marco to reach the ultimate goal of bringing prosperity to the poor and health for all,” he said.
Marco praised Dyno for his passion for research, and for the solid foundation he has built for the Center’s worldwide operations. “Dyno’s desire to achieve true and lasting impact is an inspiration to me,” he said. He thanked Dyno and Mrs. Rosi Keatinge for their gracious gestures toward his family as they settle into their new home. He encouraged staff to use the Center’s many assets—especially the genebank and strong capacity in breeding research—to continue the fight against malnutrition, to stimulate production systems and demand for vegetables through urban and peri-urban agriculture, and to address climate change issues that impact vegetable production.
Dr. Tsai then invited the board, guests and staff to enjoy an alfresco buffet dinner on the campus lawn, with entertainment from a string quartet composed of students from the Tainan National University of the Arts. It just so happened to be Dyno’s birthday as well, which called for two renditions of “Happy Birthday”—in English and Chinese. Everyone had plenty of delicious food and good “Dyno stories” and memories to share.