Feb. 16 Thompson Forum to feature Valmont execs

(From left) Mogens Bay and E. Robert Meaney.
(From left) Mogens Bay and E. Robert Meaney.

The global crisis in the supply and quality of water for agriculture will be the focus of the next lecture in the E.N. Thompson Forum on World Issues. The lecture will feature two executives from the world's largest manufacturer of mechanized irrigation equipment.

Mogens C. Bay, the chairman and chief executive officer of Omaha-based Valmont Industries, and Valmont's senior vice president, E. Robert Meaney, will present "Is a Global Water Crisis Avoidable?" The free lecture begins Feb. 16 at 7 p.m. at the Lied Center for Performing Arts. The lecture is this season's Lewis E. Harris Lecture on Public Policy.

Glaxo SmithKline Corp. endowed the Harris Lecture on Public Policy to honor its former chairman, the late Lewis E. Harris, who also founded Lincoln's Harris Laboratories (now Celerion), one of the world's leading independent scientific testing and research laboratories. The purpose of the lecture is to examine major public policy issues and to provide an opportunity for interaction between students and the business and academic communities in Nebraska.

Bay and Meaney will frame the issues through a discussion of population growth, required food and fiber production and total water and land available. They will provide examples of how the crisis in fresh water is manifested in various locations and in issues such as food security, water and quality and soil health. They will discuss solutions ranging from scientific advances to governance and economic development.

"As leaders of the world's foremost provider of mechanized irrigation systems, our speakers will share their views on global water issues and provide fascinating insights into the role advances in water delivery system technology will play in conserving water for agricultural use and, consequently, helping expand the food supply around the world," said Ron Harris, son of Lewis Harris.

The Denmark-born Bay studied law at Aarhus University and graduated from the EAC College of International Business in Copenhagen. He is also a graduate of the Harvard Business School's Advanced Management Program.

Bay joined Valmont in 1979 as a regional vice president based in Hong Kong. He became chairman and chief executive officer in 1997. He also serves as a director on a number of corporate boards and non-profit agencies including ConAgra Foods Inc., the Omaha Zoological Society, the Nebraska Medical Center and the Robert B. Daugherty Charitable Foundation.

"Beginning his career as a diplomat to China for his native Denmark and through his many years of travel around the world in his time with Valmont, Bay has witnessed, first-hand, the important role water plays to our global population," said Harris, whose friendship with Bay has spanned more than 20 years.

Meaney is responsible for oversight of corporate legal and compliance activities, coordination of international growth initiatives and government affairs for Valmont. During his 16 years with the company, Meaney has been deeply involved in development of the international organization and in the company's market entries into China, Brazil and India. Meaney earned his MBA at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

Among other involvements, Meaney serves on the boards of the Groundwater Foundation and the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce and Industry where he chairs the Manufacturing Council. He is also a director of the Washington, D.C.-based National Association of Manufacturers.

To reserve free tickets, call the Lied Center at 402-472-4747 or 800-432-3231. Tickets may also be picked up in person at the Lied Center or ordered by downloading a form from the forum's website, http://enthompson.unl.edu. All tickets are for general admission seating.

Thompson Forum lectures are available live online http://www.unl.edu, and on Lincoln Time Warner Cable Channels 21 or 5, UNL campus Channel 8 and UNL's KRNU radio (90.3 FM). Live satellite broadcasts and follow-up discussion will be available in Kearney, Hastings, Columbus, McCook, North Platte, Omaha and Scottsbluff. Sign language interpreters will be available at each lecture for the deaf and hard of hearing.

The lecture series is a cooperative project of the philanthropic Cooper Foundation, the Lied Center and UNL. It was established in 1988 to offer all Nebraskans a better understanding of world events and issues.

— Jean Ortiz Jones, University Communications