Auburn alum, one of Time’s 100 most influential people, speaking at Auburn

AUBURN – Valentin Abe, an Auburn University Department of Fisheries and Allied Aquacultures alumnus who was included on Time magazine’s 2010 list of the 100 most influential people in the world, will return to his alma mater Thursday, Nov. 4, as the fall 2010 E.T. York Distinguished Lecturer. His lecture is at 7 p.m. at The Hotel at Auburn University and Dixon Conference Center.

The Time honor was in recognition of Abe’s untiring efforts to establish a fish-farming industry in Haiti. In his York presentation, titled “Development in Haiti: A New Approach,” Abe will discuss his work in the impoverished Caribbean country and his mission to make a long-term difference in the lives of Haitians.

Abe, a native of the Ivory Coast, enrolled at Auburn in the late 1980s as a graduate student in fisheries and was awarded his master’s degree in 1991 followed by his Ph.D. in 1995. His original intent had been to return to Africa, but shortly after completing his doctorate, he was invited to work on a short-term fish-farming project in Haiti, and in Haiti he has remained. For 13 years now, Abe has dedicated himself to building a viable fisheries and aquaculture industry there that provides food and income for Haitians. His work has helped farmers increase their income two- and three-fold.

Abe was nominated for the Time honor by former U.S. President Bill Clinton, who met Abe during visits to Haiti both before and after the January 2010 earthquake. Clinton described Abe as a hero.

“This year I have been especially influenced by people I’ve met in Haiti who have performed amazing things in the wake of the earthquake and even before, after the four hurricanes,” Clinton wrote in the Time issue this past spring that recognized the 100 people who most affect our world. “One person in particular is a man from the Ivory Coast named Valentin Abe, 47, who, after graduating from Auburn University, went to Haiti to raise fish and to put more Haitians to work and increase their incomes.”

Abe’s lecture, which is free and open to the public, is sponsored by the E.T. York Distinguished Lecturer Series, a program that features internationally known scientists speaking on a wide range of topics at public and technical lectures and seminars on the Auburn campus. The series was established in the College of Agriculture in 1981 through an endowment from E.T. and Vam Cardwell York, both native Alabamians and AU graduates. York served as head of the Alabama Cooperative Extension Service from 1959 until 1962 and went on to become head of the Federal Extension Service in Washington, D.C., then provost and vice president for agriculture at the University of Florida. He retired in 1980 as chancellor of the State University System of Florida.

In addition to his lecture, Abe will visit with students and fellow alumni during Auburn’s homecoming weekend festivities.

For more information on the York lecture, visit or contact Katie Jackson at or (334) 844-2783.

(Written by Jamie Creamer.)

Contacts: Katie Jackson (334) 844-2783 (, or
Mike Clardy, (334) 844-9999 (