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Kellogg Foundation Provides $1.5 Million for Endowed Professorship in Sustainable Agriculture

July 6, 2005

Intent on enhancing the safety, healthfulness and accessibility of the nation's food supply, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation has made a gift of $1.5 million to establish an endowed chair to support the new Agricultural Sustainability Institute at the University of California, Davis.

The gift will fund the W.K. Kellogg Endowed Chair in Sustainable Food Systems within the institute.

The foundation also has provided a $95,000 grant to help the institute initiate and host an annual symposium series for the nation's academic leaders in the areas of the sustainability of agriculture and food systems.

"We are pleased that the Kellogg Foundation shares our vision for establishing UC Davis as an international hub for research and training in sustainable agriculture," said Neal Van Alfen, dean of UC Davis' College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. "These two gifts will enable us to bring in top-quality leadership to guide the institute and hold annual meetings with experts in this field so that they are better equipped to advise policymakers, agriculturists, foundation leaders and community advocates."

The institute, established just this year, is now under the leadership of Interim Director Cal Qualset, a professor emeritus of agronomy and range science, and former director of the Genetic Resources Conservation Program at UC Davis. Qualset is overseeing the search for a permanent institute director, expected to be hired by early 2006, and is assisting faculty in developing an undergraduate major in sustainable agriculture.

"The time is ripe for the formation of the Agricultural Sustainability Institute," Qualset said. "Consumers want to buy healthful foods, producers are committed to protecting natural resources and university researchers are keenly interested in the serious science behind the concept of sustainable agriculture."

The College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences has a 20-year history of furthering agricultural sustainability, a concept that stresses environmental health, economic profitability, and social and economic equity. Its Center for Integrated Farming Systems, located at Russell Ranch west of the main campus, includes two long-term studies of alternative cropping systems in the 100-year Long Term Research in Agricultural Sustainability program and the Sustainable Agriculture Farming Systems project. Both compare the impacts of traditional and alternative farming practices.

The new institute director will also direct the UC Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program, a statewide unit located at UC Davis that administers competitive grants, provides educational publications and on-farm demonstrations, and supports research on long-term sustainable farming systems.

The new institute draws together UC Davis faculty members whose research and teaching interests span a broad spectrum of fields. Their work focuses on crop and animal sciences, pest and disease sciences, natural resource conservation, food science and nutrition, economics, sociology, education, agricultural environmental policy and community development.

The institute will include the campus's 20-acre Student Farm. Established in 1977, it provides students, faculty, the general public and K-12 students with the opportunity to learn about and study various aspects of agroecology and sustainable food-production systems.

The institute will work collaboratively with the UC Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program and with the California Food and Fiber Future (CF3) Project, an educational partnership currently funded through the W.K. Kellogg Foundation's Food and Society Initiative at UC Davis.

And, it will be associated with the California Food Stamp Nutrition Education Program, a collaborative effort by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the California Department of Social Services and the University of California to improve the diet and nutrition-related skills of food stamp recipients and their families.

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation was established in 1930 by cereal manufacturer Will Keith Kellogg "to help people help themselves through the practical application of knowledge and resources to improve their quality of life and that of future generations." Its programming activities center around the common vision of a world in which each person has a sense of worth; accepts responsibility for self, family, community, and societal well-being; and has the capacity to be productive, and to help create nurturing families, responsive institutions, and healthy communities.

To achieve the greatest impact, the foundation targets its grants toward specific areas. These include: health; food systems and rural development; youth and education; and philanthropy and volunteerism. Within these areas, attention is given to exploring learning opportunities in leadership; information and communication technology; capitalizing on diversity; and social and economic community development. Grants are concentrated in the United States, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the southern African countries of Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Swaziland, and Zimbabwe.

Media contact(s):

  • Cal Qualset, Agricultural Sustainability Institute, (530) 754-8502, coqualset@ucdavis.edu (Qualset is away from campus until July 12 but reachable by e-mail.)
  • Pat Bailey, UC Davis News Service, (530) 752-9843, pjbailey@ucdavis.edu

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