Theresa Cogswell: Filling the leadership need

by Theresa Cogswell
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It could be a baker looking for a well-rounded employee who understands P/L statements and business law as well as the science and art of baking. Or it could be an ingredient supplier needing new product development professionals who know their way around ingredient functionality and the inner workings of the wholesale bakery. The employees needed to staff companies for the baking and allied industries are easier to define than they are to hire.

The beginning of the Bakery Science and Management program at Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS, started with a ­similar discussion on well-trained, promotable employees over cocktails at an industry conference. Around 1960, a group of visionary bakery and allied leaders encouraged Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL, to start a college-level program for students interested in bakery science and management as a career. Florida State started a program that ran for several years, but it was not compatible with their other programs.

Kansas State had a milling and feed curriculum that was well known throughout the milling and ­baking industry, so the Florida State program transferred to Kansas State. A group of bakers and allied personnel, known as the Bakery Ambassadors, was formed to help the transition. Kansas State accepted the program on the condition that the industry would help recruit ­students and add one staff member. The Bakery Ambassadors assisted in funding the additional staff member and set out to raise an endowment to provide a source of funds. The Bakers National Education Foundation (BNEF) was created to accept and administer those funds. Seed ­money of $2 million was raised to start BNEF. These visionaries helped move the Bakery Science program to Kansas State University in 1963. 

Over the years, the program has seen its ups and downs. At one point, the numbers were so low that the program was only graduating four to five students per year. The low enrollment prompted conversations concerning the vitality and support for the baking science program. In 2005, Dave Krishock joined the department as the BNEF Professor. He possesses the valuable combination of extensive industry experience and passion for ­baking. Prof. Krishock draws on these qualities as he recruits talented students. The proof is in the numbers. In 2012, students in Bakery Science have reached an all-time high of 75. 

Graduates of the Bakery Science program have the enviable situation of multiple job offers. Even with the increase in rates, bakery job market demand is higher than the number of graduates.

As Prof. Krishock continues to recruit and educate future leaders of the baking industry, BNEF works to raise monies to fund the BNEF professor under the leadership of Ron Zelch, board president, and John DelCampo, treasurer.        

To provide financial ­donations to this program, contact Theresa Cogswell, BNEF executive director, at theresa@bakercogs.com for information.

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