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Farewell and thanks to Masa Iwanaga, Director General, 2002-2008

CIMMYT Director General, Masa Iwanaga, ends his appointment at CIMMYT today,14 March 2008, after a six-year tenure that included a redirection in center strategy, confronting extreme financial difficulties, establishing important new alliances and partnerships, and through it all, continuing scientific achievements and recognition. At a dinner last Friday to say goodbye to Masa and welcome new DG, Tom Lumpkin, speakers emphasized Masa’s fortitude and thanked him for carrying CIMMYT through—as the words on the plaque he received state— “…the most challenging period of its history.” Lumpkin thanked Masa for leaving a healthy, scientifically-vibrant organization. Masa himself expressed his gratitude to CIMMYT staff for their support and outstanding efforts during his administration. “I firmly believe that the best days of CIMMYT are still ahead,” he said. We thank you, Masa, wish you and Kumiko the best, hope you carry fond memories of CIMMYT and Mexico, and look forward to continued contact with you as a member of the CIMMYT family at-large!

Thank-you message from Masa (abridged)

The CG system has given me wonderful opportunities to grow professionally and personally, going from postdoc to scientist, deputy director general, director general, and board member, and even part of a donor delegation from 2000 to 2002. The most important asset that I have gained during the last 30 years is an international network of friends: this represents the most fortunate gift for my life.

I began my appointment as CIMMYT Director General in mid-2002, and encountered numerous unexpected challenges, including a financial crisis.… The greatest challenge was not financial per se, but rather that of maintaining the center’s scientific excellence, relevance, and strong partnerships, ensuring that CIMMYT continued to deliver on its humanitarian mission and development impact in the difficult times and with a reduced number of staff. I’m extremely pleased to see CIMMYT back on track again, as evidenced by its receiving the last two King Baudouin Awards in collaboration with many partners and being rated “Outstanding” in the World Bank Performance Measurement system the last two years. Competent and committed staff, Board support and effective partnerships have been instrumental for the recovery.

I will be leaving CIMMYT with a strong sense of relief and sincere appreciation for the kind support the center enjoyed from many investors and partners. Dr. Thomas Lumpkin has been selected as my successor and I am confident he will lead the institute to even higher levels of performance. The center has a proud history of success and delivery, but I firmly believe the best times of CIMMYT are yet to come for delivering development impacts.

Thank you, and see you again,