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Wahl Seeks Flexibility in WSU IMPACT Center

PULLMAN, Wash. — Appointment of Thomas I. Wahl as director of the Washington State University International Marketing Program in Agricultural Commodities and Trade Center was announced here today.

James Zuiches, dean of the WSU College of Agriculture and Home Economics, said Wahl’s selection reflects the college’s recognition of the importance of global markets for Washington’s agricultural products, and Wahl’s expertise and leadership in international marketing and trade.

Thomas Wahl, director, Washington State University IMPACT Center
Thomas Wahl, director, Washington State University IMPACT Center. Click image for a larger version.

Wahl, who had served as interim director since the retirement of A. Desmond O’Rourke in May, 2000, is the center’s second director. IMPACT was formed in 1985.

Positioning IMPACT to respond more quickly to a changing economic environment is among Wahl’s goals for the organization. Wahl is moving to create “IMPACT professorships” in food policy, food technology, food safety and international marketing. These will be similar to fellowships, with five-year appointments.

“This change lets me include more faculty and gives a lot more flexibility to change focus when new issues emerge,” said Wahl. Agriculture will face many challenging issues, such as technical barriers to trade, and IMPACT needs to be able to address these changes in a very timely manner.

Wahl retains his appointment as a tenured associate professor in the WSU agricultural economics department. His research interests include international marketing and trade and food demand analysis. He has been associated with the IMPACT Center for the past 11 years.

His work for the center has focused on trade policy, food demand in the Pacific Rim and global wheat markets. He has also worked on food and trade-related issues in APEC and has been instrumental in the development of the concept of an APEC Food System, which was a featured item on the 1999 APEC ministers agenda in New Zealand.

Wahl grew up on a crop and livestock farm in Iowa. After a year of college he farmed for 10 years before returning to college. He received a bachelor’s degree and a doctorate in agricultural economics at Iowa State University. In 1990 he joined the WSU faculty.

Zuiches said Wahl is always looking for potential markets for products produced in the Pacific Northwest, as well as potential alternative crops and products for our producers. His research has involved extensive travel in the Pacific Rim, particularly in China.

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