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Tom Arnold citation

TEXT OF THE INTRODUCTORY ADDRESS DELIVERED BY PROFESSOR JIM PHELAN, UCD School of Agriculture, Food Science and Veterinary Medicine, University College Dublin on 16 June 2010, on the occasion of the conferring of the Degree of Doctor of Science, honoris causa on TOM ARNOLD

President, Distinguished Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen

I am honoured to welcome Mr. Tom Arnold to University College Dublin. Tom is Chief Executive of Concern Worldwide, Ireland’s largest humanitarian agency.  He leads a staff of 3,000 people working in almost 30 of the world’s most impoverished countries.

Tom grew up on the family farm in Lusk in north county Dublin. After completing his Leaving Certificate, he worked on the family farm for a short period before undertaking a BAgrSc in agricultural economics in University College Dublin. He acquired an MBA from the University of Louvain in 1993, and a Masters in Strategic Management from Trinity College Dublin in 2003.

Tom began his professional work career in the European Commission in Brussels where he worked primarily on European aid programmes to third world countries.  He was agricultural adviser with the EU delegations to the Ivory Coast and Malawi and was Administrator in the Food Policy and Projects Division of the Directorate General for Development.   The European Commission gave Tom the opportunity to work in a global organisation. It was also important in developing his interest in development through his work in the Ivory Coast and in Malawi, an interest that would surface in a major way when he became chief executive of Concern Worldwide. 

After nine years in Brussels, Tom returned to Ireland and became Chief Economist with ACOT, the national advisory and training body.  Five years later, he joined the Department of Agriculture as Chief Economist.  In 1993, he was appointed Assistant Secretary General, with responsibility for the Department’s finance and audit functions. 

In 2001, his career took on a new significance when he became Chief Executive of Ireland’s largest humanitarian agency. In his role as CEO of Concern Worldwide, Tom Arnold has become a leading and tireless advocate of the fight against poverty and hunger.  His background in agriculture, complimented with vast experience gained through related high level policy employment scenarios, together with a very sharp intellect  have positioned Tom well for his current role in leading the fight against poverty and malnutrition. Despite all the efforts over recent decades the scale of the world hunger problem is greater than ever before. With over a billion hungry people in the world today the challenge is immense.

Tom’s work has been recognised by many important bodies. He was Chairman of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Committee of Agriculture (1993 – 1998). In 2003, he was appointed to the UN Millennium Project Hunger Task Force, established by Kofi Annan to devise a strategy to halve world hunger by 2015.

Tom was a member of the Irish Hunger Task Force (2007 - 2008), which was charged with proposing a strategy through which Ireland could make a distinctive contribution towards ending world hunger. He is a member of the International Food Policy Research Institute’s 2020 Advisory Council and the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund’s Advisory Group.

At European level, he is chairman of the European Food Security Group, a network of 40 European NGOs engaged in food and hunger work and is Vice-chair of the Trans Atlantic Food Aid Dialogue – an alliance of American, European and Canadian NGOs working on the reform of international food aid.

Whether it is at the negotiating table in the Council Rooms of the United Nations in New York, the OECD offices in Paris, or in the company of project workers in a rural village in Africa, Tom Arnold’s respect for people and his genuine care and ability to empathise with the less well off shines through. His commitment, energy and enthusiasm in leading the fight against hunger and malnutrition across the world, through his work with Concern Worldwide and through his contribution to all the major agencies working in humanitarian interventions make him a global Irishman, one of whom we are immensely proud. Today UCD recognises the major contribution that Tom Arnold has made, he is truly a worthy recipient of the degree which he is about to receive. 

Praehonorabilis Praeses, totaque Universitas,

Praesento vobis hunc meum filium, quem scio tam moribus quam doctrina habilem et idoneum esse qui admittatur, honoris causa, ad gradum Doctoratus in Scientiae; idque tibi fide mea testor ac spondeo, totique Academiae.

Tom Arnold