There are numerous reasons universities choose to honor alumni for career achievement. Drawing attention to successful graduates raises the profile of a school, helping recruit students and attract resources while offering well-deserved respect for accomplished individuals. Specifically drawing attention from the business community probably doesn’t rank high among factors prompting such awards, but grain-based foods would do well to look at four individuals recently named Outstanding Alumni by the Department of Grain Science and Industry at Kansas State University. In very different ways, the four have left an indelible mark not just in the world beyond Manhattan, but a deep and lasting mark on grain-based foods. Two of the names may not be so familiar to bakers. Dale Rodman recently was named Secretary of the Department of Agriculture by Governor Sam Brownback, but earlier spent 37 years at Cargill and spent four as president of Tramco, a maker of dry bulk conveying systems. Lloyd Rooney received undergraduate and doctorate degrees in baking from K.S.U. but then spent his entire career as a professor at Texas A&M University where he focused not on wheat-based foods but on improving sorghum’s profile as a food grain. The work has proved invaluable worldwide. More familiar names include William Pursley, who has been at AIB International since 1975 and whose expertise in areas of food safety has never been more important than today. Finally, Fred L. Merrill was recognized for his extraordinary achievements and contributions to the university. Mr. Merrill is the embodiment of the entrepreneurial spirit that has characterized the U.S. flour milling industry for so long. The honors to all four offer the most resounding endorsement imaginable for the value to grain-based foods of Kansas State and its Department of Grain Science and Industry including its Bakery Science and Management Program.
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