Maier elaborates on challenges to milling education

by Arvin Donley
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GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. — During the keynote address at the International Milling Education Foundation (I.M.E.F.) breakfast at the 2009 International Association of Operative Millers (I.A.O.M.) Conference & Expo in Grand Rapids, Dr. Dirk E. Maier, Kansas State University Department of Grain Science and Industry professor and department head, talked about the challenges that one of the international milling community’s indispensable organizations is undergoing.

He said the Department of Grain Science and Industry is facing a decline in scholarship funding, a challenge in replacing faculty who have retired or resigned recently, and budget restraints.

Dr. Maier said that in the 2008-09 academic year K.S.U. was able to give 105 scholarships totaling $175,000 to their Baking Science Management (B.S.M.), Milling Science Management (M.S.M.) and Feed Science Management (F.S.M.) students. He went on to note that "unfortunately, we are facing a shortfall of approximately $42,000 in scholarship funding for the 2009-10 academic year (in comparison to 2008-09) and are hopeful that our alumni and friends will be able to make up for some of this short-fall."

Because of budgetary constraints, the Department of Grain Science and Industry has been forced to give up three faculty positions for the 2009-10 fiscal year due to retirements, and it expects to give up two additional faculty also due to announced retirements to meet anticipated further budget cuts for the 2010-11 fiscal year.

"While we have already reshuffled several teaching assignments and student advising responsibilities for this academic year and plan to do yet more for the next academic year, our M.S.M. and F.S.M. programs will be severely affected by the planned retirements of Drs. (Keith) Behnke and (Ekramul) Haque," Dr. Maier said. "Already, non-state funding through the generous support of $100,000 per year from Buhler Inc. is providing critical support for teaching key courses in the M.S.M. program. Due to the departure of Kendall McFall in December 2008, the Buhler Instructor of Milling is being filled on an interim basis by Chris Miller. The only reason we have permission from the university to fill this faculty position is because of the non-state funds provided by Buhler Inc. in support of our undergraduate teaching mission."

Dr. Maier noted that a search was under way for Mr. McFall’s permanent replacement.

The underlying issue binding all of K.S.U.’s challenges together is budgetary constraints. Dr. Maier said that in the middle of the current fiscal year the state of Kansas insisted on a 4.25% rescission in already appropriated state funds.

"While we had set aside that amount at the beginning of the fiscal year, it nevertheless was a major hardship and negatively affected our operating budget, including teaching of our courses, supplies for laboratories, and limitations on purchasing grain to run our mills," he said.

Dr. Maier also noted that his department has been asked to plan on a base budget cut of 10% for the 2009-10 fiscal year, which begins July 1. He said they have been told to expect another 10% base budget cut in 2010-11.

"Despite such dire budget projections, our faculty and staff continue to be creative and entrepreneurial," he said. "We continue to examine our expenses closely and have identified a number of places where we were able to improve our effectiveness and efficiency, which has resulted in cost savings. We are also exploring ways to expand our services via our existing laboratories such as the Wheat Quality Lab and via re-establishing our Microbiology and Toxicology Lab."

This article can also be found in the digital edition of Milling and Baking News, June 2, 2009, starting on Page 27. Click here to search that archive.

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