George Washington Carver Endowed Chair Walter Suza was honored with the GW Carver medallion during a celebration on January 31, which officially recognized him as the newest holder of the position. The celebration coincided with the recognition of GW Carver Day at Iowa State, which took place Feb. 1. Dr. Suza acknowledged his predecessor, Andrew Manu, calling him a “trailblazer” and by citing one of his favorite quotes from Carver, “How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in your life you will have been all of these.”
Suza spoke about his challenging childhood in Tanzania…walking at night to fetch water, walking two miles to attend school, hearing his mother talk about crops being decimated by insects and praying for rain. He would carry these experiences into adulthood and would be impacted further by the birth of his own children (not wanting them to face what he had faced) and during his work with UNICEF. He spoke of an experience while working as a food security specialist for UNICEF in which there was a severe drought in southern Zimbabwe. Tens of thousands of children under the age of five were in need of supplemental feeding and it was his job to determine which children would receive food supplementation.
Ultimately, this would lead to his goal of wanting to end world food insecurity, which took him into a career in plant breeding and in supporting the training of future plant breeders in Africa. His efforts, along with fellow peers involved in the PBA Program, would lead to training in more than 170 countries. “The need for agricultural development is about integrated interventions that are the heart of developing the next generation of leaders to make life better for their people,” said Suza. He went on to explain that food insecurity is not just a problem abroad, but also here in Iowa. According to Feeding America, “69,000 children in Iowa face hunger.”
Suza ended by saying, “I’m proud and honored to carry the George Washington Carver Chair name.” An article about his thoughts on the receiving the honor and in “Listening to George Washington Carver” can be found here.
Article by Kara Berg, Agronomy. Photos by Whitney Baxter, CALS
In top photo: Interim Agronomy Department Chair Mary Wiedenhoeft and CALS Dean Dan Robison, present Dr. Walter Suza (center) with the George Washington Carver medallion. Photos by Whitney Baxter