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Recent history of Phi Tau Sigma, 2006 to 2012: How did we get to where we are?

Updated: Apr 23

(Contributed by Daryl Lund Treasurer, President 2006-2008, Treasurer 2011 to present, Lifetime Member Phi Tau Sigma)

At the 2006 Phi Tau Sigma meeting, which is concurrent with the IFT meeting, I succeeded Dr. Roger Clemens as President of Phi Tau Sigma. As I came into the office, Roger encouraged me to focus on reinvigorating Phi Tau Sigma so it would once again be The Honor Society of Food Science and Technology and bring recognition to those who are making significant contributions as students or professionals in the field. In discussions with Dr. Juan Silva, who had served as Executive Secretary since 1992, I appointed a committee of past presidents of Phi Tau Sigma to develop a proposal for a more permanent relationship between the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) and Phi Tau Sigma, a relationship that would elevate the prestige of Phi Tau Sigma and provide IFT a platform to recognize student achievement, recognition ultimately comparable to the achievement awards of IFT. In the 2009 IFT Report of Accomplishments, the relationship of IFT and Phi Tau Sigma was identified as a significant contribution to one of IFT's Four Strategic Roles/Goals, specifically "Provide learning, networking, and leadership development experiences that enable food science and technology professionals to become leaders in the global food science community."

To that point in time, the principle activity of Phi Tau Sigma was to sponsor the student paper competition award reception at the IFT AMFE (Annual Meeting and Food Expo) and to fund the Dr. Carl R. Fellers Award, presented annually at the IFT meeting. The Committee of Phi Tau Sigma Past Presidents understood and recognized that there was much more that Phi Tau Sigma could be doing to foster leadership development and recognize excellence. In 2007, there were about 300 dues paying members, 20 lifetime members, and about 60 student inductees. In addition, there was an endowment of about $90,000 that was conservatively invested so that the interest could be used toward the Dr. Carl R. Fellers Award. This level of activity and income was enough to sustain Phi Tau Sigma but there were only a few Chapters of the 38 that were active.

At the Phi Tau Sigma meeting in 2008, Dr. Yao-wen Huang (University of Georgia) became President of Phi Tau Sigma and asked the Committee of Past Presidents to continue to explore a more structured relationship with IFT and that I serve as chair of the committee. To that end, the Committee developed a proposal that was presented to the IFT Board of Directors and was adopted at their meeting in June 2009. The proposal outlined the relationship and expectations of both organizations as revitalization of Phi Tau Sigma progressed. Spring 2010, the first election of an Executive Committee of Phi Tau Sigma was carried out with Dr. Dennis Heldman becoming President.

Since the first Executive Committee meeting in July, 2010, Phi Tau Sigma has been strengthened as an Honor Society in several critical areas. Dr. Heldman moved aggressively to begin a strategic planning process and significant time was spent updating the membership records (since there were only 127 names on the active membership list with current email addresses) and creating a newsletter. At the suggestion of Dr. Daryl Lund, Dr. Anthony W. Kotula and his daughter, Dr. Kathryn L. Kotula, volunteered to create and edit the Newsletter, and determined that it needed to be a monthly, rather than annual, publication. Monthly conference calls were initiated to drive the planning process and, within a year, identified members totaled 305 (largely due to the efforts of the Executive Committee and Dr. Kathryn L. Kotula in tracking down people listed on the membership list from Dr. Juan Silva).

Needless to say, the increased activity resulted in significant use of IFT staff time and in March 2011, IFT decided to terminate the formal relationship between Phi Tau Sigma and IFT. By this time a good cadre of volunteers had been identified to carry out all the functions of Phi Tau Sigma. In June 2011, Dr. Kenneth Lee (the Ohio State University) became President of Phi Tau Sigma, a new Executive committee was elected, and the redevelopment of Phi Tau Sigma continued at an even more accelerated rate.

To assist in planning and initiating change, Dr. Lee appointed a Strategic Directions Committee (SDC) chaired by immediate Past President Dr. Dennis Heldman. Among the recommendations and subsequent accomplishments of the SDC were: (1) immediately develop a Phi Tau Sigma website (developed by Dr. Kenneth Lee), (2) transfer the endowment from the IFT Foundation to Phi Tau Sigma (accomplished in October 2011), and (3) transfer all membership records to volunteers (subsequently transferred to Dr. Kathryn L. Kotula). The monthly Phi Tau Sigma Newsletter, started in October 2010, with editors Dr. Anthony W. Kotula and his daughter Dr. Kathryn L. Kotula brought attention to the organization. This has driven the reinvigoration of Chapters at Universities (two new Chapters have been formed) and, a Membership and Qualifications Committee, chaired by Dr. Dennis Heldman, has characterized and maintained the high standards for membership.

In summary, these six years have been nothing short of exceptional in the history of this organization.A great cadre of volunteers has elevated Phi Tau Sigma as The Honor Society of Food Science and Technology. Chapters are being reorganized with a focus on recognition of student excellence and leadership development. Under the direction of Treasurer Dr. Daryl Lund, and a new ad hoc Finance Committee, finances are improved to the point that not only will the Dr. Carl R. Fellers Award be given, but also the Dr. Gideon “Guy” Livingston Scholarship will be initiated in 2013. (Dr. Livingston was one of the founders of Phi Tau Sigma at the University of Massachusetts in 1953.) The Phi Tau Sigma Special Recognition Award, for professionals, and the Phi Tau Sigma Student Achievement Awards were initiated in 2011 and 2012, respectively.The Dr. Daryl B. Lund International Scholarship and the Founders’ Award have been instituted and will be given starting in 2013.Recognition of excellence is fostered by increased presence and visibility of Phi Tau Sigma sponsored events at IFT (please see the calendar of activities elsewhere in this Newsletter). The future is very bright for Phi Tau Sigma.Please, if you are a member, nominate your fellow professionals whom you think should have the recognition of Phi Tau Sigma.

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