October 10, 2007

Former UN world food program chief to visit SIUC

by Pete Rosenbery


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CARBONDALE, Ill. — Catherine Bertini, the former head of the United Nations World Food Programme, will visit with students and present a public lecture next week at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

Bertini's appearance is at 7 p.m., Monday, Oct. 15, in the SIUC Student Center Ballroom B.

Bertini has a long history of international and national public service in humanitarian relief and nutrition policy, including serving for 10 years as executive director of the U.N.'s World Food Programme.

She is a professor of public administration with the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University. In June, Bertini joined the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation's Agricultural Development team as a senior fellow.

"The Gates Foundation chose wisely when it brought Cathy Bertini aboard. She has distinguished herself by streamlining and enhancing U.N. efforts to help struggling and often starving people in developing countries throughout the world," institute Director Mike Lawrence said.

The event is part of the Gil and Jean Kroening Lecture Series. The Paul Simon Public Policy Institute, SIUC's College of Agricultural Sciences, the Illinois Soybean Association, and the United Nations Association Southern Illinois Chapter are sponsoring Bertini's visit.

Appointed in 1992, Bertini is credited with making institutional changes that recognized the food programme as a model of U.N. reform in terms of efficiency, effectiveness, accountability and income. In 2003, Bertini was selected the 2003 World Food Prize Laureate for her leadership in ending famine and reducing hunger in various locations throughout the world, including North Korea, Afghanistan, Bosnia, Kosovo, the Horn of Africa, and in Central America following Hurricane Mitch.

In 2006, President George W. Bush appointed Bertini as a member of the Board for International Food and Development; she also serves on three university public policy boards and on the board of directors of Save the Children USA. The Times of London lists Bertini as one of the world's most powerful women.

This is the fourth Gil and Jean Kroening Lecture. Gil Kroening, former dean of the SIUC College of Agricultural Sciences, and his wife, Jean, a Carbondale Realtor, established the fellowship that brings a distinguished speaker to campus annually to address issues such as U.S. and world agriculture, food and environmental issues.