It is with sincere gratitude and humbleness, and simultaneous excitement and determination, that I begin working as the Interim Director of the Food Science Institute (FSI). I know that everyone associated with the FSI has the goal of making the K-State food science program the best in the land, and I look forward to working with everyone, including our wonderful alumni, to continue to improve our program and the impact the Institute has on our students and stakeholders. First, I want to recognize and thank Dr. Curtis Kastner for the 15 years he spent as the FSI’s founding director. His passion for students and the development of FSI programs was phenomenal, and provided a very solid foundation for our future. He’s now officially an Emeritus professor and has assured me that he will continue to support our FSI efforts. Thanks also to Dr. Ken Odde and Elsa Toburen for taking care of the FSI shop over the past several months. Elsa is a “rock star” in the way she oversees and coordinates our business office activities.
We have very important business to accomplish for the FSI, and particularly for the undergraduate program. This includes a continued reevaluation of our B.S. curriculum (course offerings, course content, and scheduling and sequencing), and thanks to Dr. Karen Schmidt for her strong leadership to this initiative. Dr. Abbey Nutsch is bringing a new level of scrutiny to our formal food science program assessment activities, both undergraduate and graduate, and we will continue to look for ways to effectively utilize this assessment information to improve our academic programs. We are focusing a high level of attention to undergraduate student recruitment, and the recruitment committee is energetically initiating a campaign to draw the brightest students possible into our Science and Operations Management (Business) options. There are no better majors than Food Science & Industry here at K-State, and we must get the word out across Kansas, the region and even the nation!
In an interim position, you never know how much time you have to accomplish your goals; however, I’m asking everyone involved with the FSI to help me accomplish positive things for our food science program. Priorities for me include increasing interactions with industry stakeholders, increasing the number of student opportunities (eg., internships and scholarships, international experiences), having more productive engagement with our K-State Olathe colleagues and programs, synergizing with the K-State Global Food System Initiative for mutual benefit, and increasing Food Science student numbers. Please let me know when you have needs and/or ideas in which the FSI can assist, and students and faculty/staff, have a great Fall 2017 semester!
-Dr. Randall Phebus, Interim Director of the Food Science Institute