Tom Reardon Named University Distinguished Professor

Since joining the Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics in 1992, Professor Tom Reardon has garnered global recognition for his scholarship, teaching, and service to the profession.

Tom Reardon, Professor in the Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics (AFRE) at Michigan State University (MSU), has been named a University Distinguished Professor.

The MSU Board of Trustees awards University Distinguished Professor honors to select faculty members whose achievements have garnered national and international recognition, have superior teaching skills, and an impressive record of public service and scholarly achievements.

Tom Reardon has worked extensively in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, and developed a global reputation for advancing our understanding of food value chain transformations, most notably the “Supermarket Revolution” and the “Quiet Revolution” (the diffusion of small to medium enterprises in the midstream of value chains). Tom’s scholarship on food value chains has often challenged conventional wisdom and has become a fundamental influence on food economics thinking for the past several decades.

University Distinguished Professor, Tom Reardon


“University Distinguished Professor is the highest honor that MSU bestows on faculty who have built their careers here,” says, AFRE Chairperson, and fellow University Distinguished Professor Scott Swinton.  “’Here’ is a relative term for Tom, because he has carried the MSU banner around the world.  His remarkable portfolio of field research in developing nations has highlighted changes in the markets and contracts that shape how food gets from producers to consumers.  Through his research, teaching, and mentorship, Tom has been hugely impactful.  He is very deserving of this honor.”

Tom Reardon joined AFRE in 1992.  During his time at MSU, Tom has led major international research programs and taught agricultural and food markets and development at the undergraduate and graduate levels and advised more than 100 masters and doctoral students.  His work has been cited over 37,500 times and with his colleagues, Tom has raised more than $30 million in extramural research grants from foundations and government agencies.

Felicia Wu, John A. Hannah Distinguished Professor in the Michigan State University departments of Food Science and Human Nutrition, and AFRE says “Not only does Tom Reardon have an outstanding record of creative research that helps inform the world about food systems transformation, he is also a generous teacher, mentor, and colleague who especially supports junior faculty in AFRE. Of course, his publication record speaks for itself, being among the most impressive of all MSU faculty. Tom is supremely qualified to be a MSU University Distinguished Professor." 

Reflecting on this honor Tom says:

I am thrilled to be named University Distinguished Professor (UDP). I am grateful to former AFRE chairperson Titus Awokuse for his wonderful encouragement and support, and in particular in the nomination for UDP to Scott Swinton and Felicia Wu for their marvelous letter of nomination and their individual support and encouragement, to faculty colleagues Ben Belton, Vincenzina Caputo, and Saweda Liverpool-Tasie, and graduate students Christine Sauer and Carolina Vargas who supported my nomination and with whom I have been delighted to work; and I am grateful for the long collaboration at MSU with David Tschirley, and finally, to Eric Crawford for wooing me from the International Food Policy Research Institute to come to MSU in 1992 which set this university success in train.

This is Tom’s second professional honor this year; he was also named an Honorary Life Member of the International Association of Agricultural Economists (IAAE).


Did you find this article useful?