by Mike Willett, Vice President for Scientific Affairs, Northwest Horticultural Council

Mike Willett

Dr. Mike Willett, vice president for scientific affairs at the Northwest Horticultural Council, has been named manager of the Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission, the commission announced today.

Willett’s arrival at the research commission signals an evolution in the role of Dr. Jim McFerson, the current manager who recently accepted an appointment as director of Washington State University’s Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center in Wenatchee.

Here’s the text of today’s announcement by the commission:

Mike Willett, currently Vice-President for Scientific Affairs at the Northwest Horticultural Council (NHC), has been hired as the manager of the Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission (WTFRC). Dr. Jim McFerson, who is now director of WSU’s Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center in Wenatchee, will continue his partial appointment with the commission through February 2017. In March 2017, it is anticipated that he will assume a full-time appointment with WSU.

Jim Doornink, WTFRC chairman notes, “Willett’s hire will enable the commission to maintain and enhance its mission of funding high quality, practical research programs and, working with McFerson, to develop a strong strategic planning process for the commission during this transition. Additionally, Jim will maintain responsibility for specific research-related portfolios during the next 16 months. Jim’s proven track record, his new critical role at WSU and his anticipated continuing contributions on behalf of the commission will ensure that the transition is smooth and productive.“

The exact timing of the start of Dr. Willett’s new duties is still to be determined.

Good Fruit Grower reported in August that McFerson signed a contract with WSU that would allow him to devote 65 percent of his time to WSU and the remaining 35 percent to the Research Commission until the end of February, 2017.