Leading the field in packaging

MSU's School of Packaging is looking to attract the next generation of bright scholars and equip them with the resources they need to pursue big ideas.

Maruscha Pranata

Academia is competitive. Universities compete to attract the best faculty and the best students, racing to secure finite funds for research endeavors. Only the very best come out on top after constantly challenging themselves to be better.

The MSU School of Packaging has worked diligently to be the best. In 1952, as the first School of Packaging in the U.S., it blazed a trail for others to follow. Currently, it has nearly 10,000 alumni and is the largest packaging program in the country with over 600 undergraduates and 57 graduate students. It has a 95 percent job placement rate with an average starting salary of $58,750. It is the only school of packaging that offers a Ph.D. program with MSU Packaging Ph.D.’s sharing Spartan Will in nearly every packaging school around the globe.

The MSU School of Packaging is the leading packaging school in the country and has its sights set on tomorrow.

The school is looking to attract the next generation of bright scholars and equip them with the resources they need to pursue big ideas. Now, the School of Packaging is working to endow a chair and a professorship to attract established researchers who are rooted in allied programs across the country.

Endowments offer a dependable, perpetual source of funding that help attract the best in fields such as polymer chemistry, materials science and mechanical engineering, and others who will engage in research across disciplines. Individuals strong in their fields can add their strength to the collective power of an already robust and vibrant program. An endowed chair and an endowed professorship will annually generate approximately $200,000 and $100,000, respectively. These perpetual funds can enhance research and learning in food science, health, engineering and beyond, year after year.

“The MSU School of Packaging is the premier packaging program in the country but it can’t stay competitive without continuing to grow and adapt,” said Ron Hendrick, CANR dean. “Endowed professorships and chairs allow us to attract the next generation of high-caliber faculty, and better facilities help us attract new faculty and students.”

To attract the next generation, the school’s academic spaces and laboratories need to better reflect the quality and characteristics that continue to give rise to its success. It is a program with one foot grounded in the needs and constraints of today and the other stepping forward into the possibilities of tomorrow.

Another campaign initiative is to raise $7.5 million to support renovations to the School of Packaging building, last updated in 1986. These changes will enhance scientific endeavor, support student learning and provide the competitive advantage to excel in the workforce.

Laboratories will be renovated with new, state-of-the-art equipment to provide world-class facilities for scholars and students. The main classroom will be redesigned from the existing stadium-style, fixed-tiered seating. The new, flat floor will house flexible modular furniture that can be manipulated easily to adapt the space to changing needs.

These changes, along with a redesigned graduate student suite and study spaces, will create a community environment where students and faculty can more easily collaborate. An open-style arrangement for the graduate student suite will encourage conversation and collaboration. Changes are expected to lead to greater ideation and provide opportunities to anticipate and solve packaging challenges in the areas of food and food safety, healthcare, sustainability and more.

By investing in our students, faculty and spaces, the MSU School of Packaging will continue to educate and deliver a well-prepared workforce for the industry and the educators of tomorrow.

This article was published in In the Field, a yearly magazine produced by the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources at Michigan State University. To view past issues of In the Field, visit www.canr.msu.edu/inthefield. For more information, email Holly Whetstone, editor, at whetst11@msu.edu or call 517-355-0123.

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