There was much to celebrate Oct. 2 at the Raleigh Marriott City Center. A host of academicians, food research professionals and well-wishers gathered at an event to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Food Systems Leadership Institute (FSLI), honor its outgoing director Dr. Ken Swartzel and launch a new endowment being created by the Association of Public Land-Grant Universities (APLU).
The APLU FSLI Endowment will support the APLU Food Systems Leadership Award and future enhancements. The award annually recognizes a food systems leader who has made an extraordinary impact through visionary service and who exemplifies the core principles of the FSLI.
Created by the APLU in 2004, the FSLI is a leadership development program designed to prepare upper-level leaders in higher education, government and industry to meet future food system challenges and opportunities. The institute was created with a five-year seed grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. N. C. State University is the primary host site for the program, with The Ohio State University and California Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo, serving as partnering hosts.
Each two-year FSLI experience, or cohort, provides a curriculum of three one-week residential sessions, which are held at N.C. State, Ohio State and California Polytechnic University. The residential sessions are supplemented by an extensive two-year coaching and mentoring program.
Among participants in the October celebration were N.C. State Chancellor Randy Woodson and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ Dr. Marshall Stewart, current FSLI director. Dr. Richard Linton, CALS dean, sent a video tribute to Swartzel, as did representatives of each FSLI cohort since its founding.
Swartzel directed the FSLI from its founding until his recent retirement. At N.C. State, he is a William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor and former head of what is now the CALS Department of Food, Bioprocessing and Nutrition Sciences.
A CALS food science alumnus – with 1970 bachelor’s, 1974 master’s and 1979 Ph.D. degrees, all from N.C. State — Swartzel is known around the world for blending basic engineering and kinetics to yield new products and processes that enhance quality of life. His research, focused on chemical and biological kinetics in continuous flow food processing systems, resulted in 22 U.S. and 30 foreign patents. His work has led to the creation of seven early stage companies in North Carolina. In 1987, he was instrumental in founding what is now the Center for Advanced Processing and Packaging Studies, a National Science Foundation industry/university cooperative research center, serving as managing director.
Swartzel has been recognized with nine international research awards and named Fellow of both the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) and ASAE-The Society for Engineering in Agricultural, Food and Biological Systems. In 2006 he received the Alexander Quarles Holladay Medal for Excellence, N.C. State’s highest award for faculty career achievement and service to the university. He was named N.C. State’s Innovator of the Year in 2011, while in 2012 he was honored with the state’s Order of the Long Leaf Pine award for exemplary service to the state.
And this past July, he received the IFT’s 2013 Nicholas Appert Award, the institute’s highest honor, given annually to an IFT member for preeminence in and contributions to the field of food science and technology.
It was therefore fitting that Swartzel’s career was celebrated as the FSLI observed its 10th anniversary – and as the APLU endowed an award that will honor the kinds of innovation and service that Swartzel exemplifies. —Terri Leith