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Dr. Cary Fowler ’71 To Deliver Address at Rhodes College Baccalaureate Service

Publication Date: 4/26/2013

The Baccalaureate Service for the 164th Session of Rhodes College will be held May 10 in the multi-sports forum of the Bryan Campus Life Center on campus beginning at 3:30 p.m. Seating tickets are necessary for admission. The Baccalaureate program will be broadcast live in the McCallum Ballroom and in the Lynx Lair of the Bryan Campus Life Center. It also will stream live from the Rhodes home page.

President William E. Troutt will preside over the program, and Dr. Cary Fowler, former executive director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust and currently its special advisor, will deliver the address. Dubbed “The World’s Seed Banker,” Fowler has led a global effort to ensure the genetic diversity of the world’s food crops is preserved for future generations. Fowler grew up in Memphis and graduated from White Station High School in 1967 before enrolling at Rhodes.

In the 1990s, he headed the International Conference and Programme on Plant Genetic Resources, which produced the United Nation’s first ever global assessment of the state of the world’s plant genetic resources. Fowler served as a Norwegian University of Life Sciences professor and researcher before joining the Global Crop Diversity Trust in 2005.

With headquarters moved this year to Bonn, Germany, the trust oversees the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, which holds the most diverse collection of food crop seeds in the world. Fowler has been interviewed about the seed vault by various media including CBS’ “60 Minutes,” CNN, The New Yorker, National Geographic, and NBC’s Today. He received the prestigious Heinz Award for his “vision and efforts in the preservation of the world’s food supply” in 2010 and the next year, Rhodes presented him with an Honorary Doctor of Humanities degree.

“Rhodes gives students the chance to build a foundation for their careers as well as for the interests and values that help people lead fulfilling lives,” said Fowler in the Fall 2012 issue of the Rhodes magazine. “I don’t know of many important problems in the world today that can be addressed competently within a single academic discipline, and this is why I think exposure to and appreciation of multiple disciplines is so important in college. I left Rhodes with a high level of comfort in applying interdisciplinary approaches to my work. For me, this has made all the difference, and it largely explains my professional success.”

In March 2013, Rhodes announced the Cary Fowler ’71 Environmental Studies International Fellowship in collaboration with the Global Crop Diversity Trust.

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