Gunderson to Lead Purdue’s Center for Food and Agricultural Business

Purdue professor Michael Gunderson has been named the director of Purdue University’s Center for Food and Agricultural Business.

Gunderson, who has served as an associate center director since 2012, takes over for Allan Gray, who will assume the role of executive director. Both appointments begin May 1.

“Mike Gunderson has a proven record of passion for agriculture and improving the management competencies of agribusiness professionals,” said Karen Plaut, interim dean of Purdue Agriculture. “Dr. Gunderson’s research record and commitment to industry improvement make him an excellent fit to lead the center and build on 31 years of successful research and programming.”

The director provides strategic direction for the center, works with food and agribusiness managers in professional development seminars and workshops, and interacts with industry clients and potential clients. The director also oversees the center’s 16 full-time faculty and staff members, as well as the MS-MBA in Food and Agribusiness Management, a dual-degree program partnership with Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business.

Gunderson earned his doctorate in agricultural economics from Purdue in 2006. He served as assistant professor, then associate professor for the University of Florida’s College of Agricultural Life Sciences before returning to Purdue as an associate professor in 2012. He has taught more than 1,500 undergraduate and graduate students and more than 2,000 food and agribusiness professionals in executive education programs.

“The center has a long history of walking alongside industry professionals as they seek personal and organizational improvement,” Gunderson said. “I look forward to continuing the tradition and building upon the foundation that has been built by previous directors Dave Downey and Allan Gray.”

After the leadership transition, Gray will head to the University of Sao Paolo in Ribeirao Preto, Brazil for an eight-month research assignment to study the development of sustainable food supply chains. He will look at how the World Wildlife Federation worked with the Brazilian agribusiness industry to develop sustainable supply chains in soybeans, cotton, and cattle. The work will allow Gray to help U.S. agribusinesses think about the linkages and incentive structures that have been successful in other parts of the world – something these businesses will increasingly need to consider as food consumers push for more sustainability.

In his role as executive center director, Gray will continue teaching in professional development and executive education programs and will serve as director for the MS-MBA program.

The Center for Food and Agricultural Business, housed within Purdue Agriculture’s Department of Agricultural Economics, creates and delivers open-enrollment and custom management and executive education programs for food and agricultural business professionals. The programs combine applied research with real-world application specific to the industry. In addition to the MS-MBA program, the center offers a variety of resources, including the Purdue Food and Agribusiness Quarterly Review publication.

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