The process to appoint a new director of Teagasc will commence shortly following the announcement today (April 7) that Professor Gerry Boyle is set to retire from the organisation in September after 14 years’ service.
During his tenure, which saw his initial seven-year contract extended on two occasions, Teagasc has experienced many profound changes from the moratorium on recruitment and wage cuts in the wake of the 2009 recession to the current pandemic. On the international front, Teagasc has established a reputation for working at the cutting edge in terms of research and advisory activity. On the domestic front, Teagasc has led on the analysis of the impact of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and in responding through pointing the scientific way forward in relation to the sustainability agenda, especially on climate change.
Over that period, Professor Boyle has focused on resolutely improving Teagasc’s scientific excellence, its responsiveness to the needs of farmers and food companies and its policy relevance. Teagasc has managed to navigate a difficult path between articulating the scientific interests of Ireland’s agri-food sector, while maintaining its scientific independence.
Teagasc now has a well-developed system for rigorously evaluating the performance of its research, advisory, education and administrative functions. It has also developed a systematic open door consultation process with all of its stakeholders. It has forged effective joint initiatives with Ireland’s leading dairy and meat companies, most notably through the BETTER Beef Programme, in collaboration with the meat industry and the Irish Farmers Journal, the Teagasc BETTER Sheep programme and the innovative Grass10 Programme in collaboration with the Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine, AIB, FBD, Grassland Agro and Irish Farmers Journal.
Over his tenure, Teagasc developed a dynamic approach to its education programme through its Education Vision strategy, and Teagasc ConnectEd, a unique programme that delivers education and training initiatives to a wide range of rural professionals. More recently Teagasc has committed to introducing the first CPD programme that’s specifically directed at farmers.
Teagasc has deepened its linkages with the Irish University and Institute of Technology sectors; in recent years it has become centrally involved in supporting Ireland’s overseas agricultural development efforts through its work with Irish Aid and the Department of Foreign Affairs; and Teagasc research facilities have been developed considerably while Professor Boyle was director, but especially in recent years with the construction of the National Food Innovation Hub and the expansion of the MTL pilot plant at Moorepark, the National Prepared Consumer Foods Centre at Ashtown and the Bia Innovator on the Athenry campus.
As director, Professor Boyle received many personal accolades, most notably, the bestowal of the Academic Palm by the Government of France in 2017 and the conferring of an Honorary Degree in Science by UCC in 2019. He was also elected President of Euragri in 2018 which is the EU network for public agri-food research and innovation organisations. And for the last five years he has served as an ex officio member of the Climate Change Advisory Council. Liam Herlihy, chairman of the Teagasc Authority, thanked Professor Boyle for his excellent leadership in Teagasc and in the wider agri-food sector.
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