University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of EngineeringOnline: Autumn 2011
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Lenton two Lead Daugherty Institute photo

Roberto Lenton, one of the world’s foremost experts in water management and development, will lead the Robert B. Daugherty Water for Food Institute at the University of Nebraska. Lenton will also hold an appointment as professor of biological systems engineering at UNL.

The institute is a university-wide, interdisciplinary research, education and policy analysis center dedicated to the efficient use of the world’s freshwater resources to feed a growing global population.

“Roberto Lenton is the ideal person to lead the Daugherty Institute as its founding director,” said James B. Milliken, NU president. “His experience in water management, food security, sustainable agriculture and responsible use of resources is exceptional. As important, he shares our vision for the institute and its potential to have an impact on Nebraska and on the world. He will help us leverage the excellent water research that our faculty has been involved in for many years, and establish the Daugherty Institute as a leader in research, education and policy related to water for food.”

Since 2009, Lenton has served as chairperson of the independent World Bank Inspection Panel, a vice presidential-level position within the World Bank organization. The panel aids accountability of the World Bank and compliance with its social and environmental policies.

Lenton’s appointment as executive director of the Daugherty Institute will begin Feb. 1, 2012, after his current role as chair of the Inspection Panel concludes. He will remain a member of the panel until August 2012.

Lenton said, “The Robert B. Daugherty Water for Food Institute has so much to build on: its base at a leading land grant university with a strong tradition of practical application of scientific knowledge; its location in the state of Nebraska, known as an innovator of good policies and practices in agricultural water management; the enormous talent of its faculty and research staff who have a long track record of addressing water and food security issues from a variety of disciplinary perspectives; its strong convening power, as illustrated by the annual Water for Food Conferences that have begun to shape the debate on this critical issue of our time; and the very generous founding gift from the Robert B. Daugherty Foundation that will enable the Institute to get off to a rapid start.”


He added, “I am very excited by the opportunity to build on these strong foundations and enable the Institute to fulfill its commitment to help the world use its limited freshwater resources effectively and ensure food security for current and future generations.”

“Roberto Lenton is the ideal person to lead the Daugherty Institute as its founding director,” said James B. Milliken, NU President.

The Daugherty Water for Food Institute was established in 2010 through a $50 million founding gift from the Robert B. Daugherty Charitable Foundation. Daugherty, founder of Valmont Industries and a pioneer in the irrigation industry, died in October 2010. He was recently honored with the 2011 Regents Medal, the university’s highest award.

In addition to hosting the annual Water for Food conference, which this year drew more than 450 participants from across the globe, the Daugherty Institute will focus on building international partnerships with universities and ministries to help develop solutions for the optimal use of water in agriculture. At the conference last May, the University of Nebraska agreed to establish a joint program with UNESCO IHE in the Netherlands, the world’s largest graduate program in management of water. University leaders are also working to develop partnerships in China, India, Brazil and other countries.

–Sharon Stephan, NU Central Administration


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