In turn, Milo J. Shult, vice president for agriculture at the university, announced that Karen Moldenhauer, longtime rice breeder at the Rice Research and Extension Center near Stuttgart, will hold the new Rice Industry Chair in Variety Development. Moldenhauer is currently interim director of the Rice Research and Extension Center.
"We tremendously appreciate the Rice Research and Promotion Board’s expression of confidence in our research program with this gift," Shult said. "This will enable our research to expand to new levels in improving our rice varieties.
"This show of support is especially significant because it is the first endowed chair ever to be located away from a main campus of higher education in Arkansas," Shult added. "This speaks volumes about the importance of this center to the industry and of our commitment to serving that industry’s needs."
Moldenhauer has been a principal researcher at the Rice Research and Extension Center since receiving her Ph.D. in plant breeding from Iowa State University in 1982. During her tenure as team leader for the development of new rice cultivars, 12 improved varieties have been released which account for 60 percent of all rice grown in Arkansas.
She is a nationally recognized researcher who in 1998 was named Fellow in the prestigious Crop Science Society of America.
An endowed chair creates the margin of excellence required to attract and retain the most distinguished researchers in the country to areas where research strength is critically needed, said Shult. Not only does an endowed chair provide salary enhancements and research support, it also distinguishes the chair holder as a person of extraordinary accomplishment who possesses the ability to significantly impact the future of the state and its economy.
The board's donation is supported by the Tariff Rate Quota (TRQ) fund. The Arkansas Rice Research and Promotion Board receives a share of TRQ monies from funds remitted to a U.S. producer-miller consortium through a negotiated agreement with the European Union. The Arkansas share is to be used to support the Arkansas rice industry through research. The board is using a portion of its fund receipts to endow the research chair.
"Arkansas rice producers depend on the expertise developed by the Division’s rice researchers," said Marvin Hare Jr. of Newport, Rice Research and Promotion Board chair. "We believe this is an investment in the economic well-being of our industry and our state."
Other members of the board are George Dunklin Jr. of DeWitt, vice chair; Brian Moery of Wynne, secretary-treasurer; Jerry Hoskyn of Stuttgart, Jon Lambi of Pickens, John Andrews of Walnut Ridge, Joe Rennicke of Weiner, Randy Veach of Manila, and Rusty Smith of Cotton Plant.
The Rice Research and Extension Center (RREC), nine miles east of Stuttgart, conducts research and producer educational training in varietal improvement, weed control, and soil fertility, and is the site of laboratories for rice genetics, weed control, soil fertility, and plant physiology.
Co-located at the Center is the Dale Bumpers National Rice Research Center of the USDA Agricultural Research Service. USDA scientists conduct genetics, germplasm evaluation and enhancement, biology and control of weeds, cereal chemistry, molecular genetics, cytogenetics, molecular plant pathology, and molecular biology research in cooperation with UA Division of Agriculture scientists.