New Principal and Chief Executive for SRUC

27th April 2016

The Board of Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) is pleased to confirm that it is to appoint Professor Wayne Powell as its new Principal and Chief Executive, with effect from 1 July 2016.

Professor Powell will join SRUC from his current role as Chief Science Officer at CGIAR Consortium, an international partnership organisation which focuses on agricultural research for development in areas such as cereals, agroforestry, livestock and climate change. He previously spent six years as the Director of the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS) at Aberystwyth University.

The Board can also confirm that Janet Swadling, who has been Acting Chief Executive and Principal since December 2013, will continue to lead SRUC until Professor Powell takes up his role, after which she will act as his deputy in the role of Deputy Principal and Chief Executive.

SRUC Chairman Pat Machray says: “We are absolutely delighted to welcome Professor Powell as Principal and Chief Executive of SRUC. His strong track record in agricultural research and knowledge transfer will allow him to drive SRUC’s academic vision, which includes gaining degree awarding powers, and once more achieving a world-leading result in the Research Excellence Framework (REF).

“We believe his skills are the ideal complement to Janet’s in depth business knowledge and keen understanding of the academic sector. They will work in partnership to ensure this unique institution further strengthens its education, research and consultancy capability.”

Professor Powell is a world leading plant scientist with a particular focus on genetics and plant breeding. Currently based at CGIAR’s headquarters in Montpelier, France, he has extensive previous experience in the UK having been Director of the National Institute of Agricultural Botany (NIAB) in Cambridge, as well as Deputy Director of the Scottish Crop Research Institute (now the James Hutton Institute).

His roles in IBERS and CGIAR have seen him develop his extensive skills in senior leadership roles. At the former he was responsible for 350 staff, 1400 undergraduates and 250 postgraduates with an annual budget of £30 million. At CGIAR he developed and implemented a portfolio of research which aims to address the sustainable development agenda of healthy diets from sustainable food systems. The management of this $1 billion programme involved 10,000 staff based in over 100 countries.

Professor Powell says: “I’m incredibly pleased to be the new Principal and Chief Executive of Scotland’s Rural College. It is a unique and innovative institution, hugely respected not just in Scotland and the UK but around the world.

“Land-based research is becoming increasingly important in a world where food and nutrition security and climate change are the top challenges facing governments across the globe. I believe SRUC has a key role to play in tackling these important issues. The research portfolio combines areas like precision agriculture, animal and crop health, and rural communities, and it is this holistic approach that gives SRUC a vital edge in the sector. The college also excels in its education and consulting activities and it is this combination of cutting edge expertise and knowledge exchange activities that ensures SRUC has such a comprehensive understanding of the bigger picture.

“I am very excited about the opportunity that SRUC offers, and I intend to work with my colleagues closely to ensure this great institution grows even greater.”

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