LSU launches graduate certificate program to strengthen food supply chains

(07/09/24) BATON ROUGE, La. — A long-held vision of Don Welge is now a reality. LSU has unveiled a new online graduate certificate in agribusiness designed to strengthen the resilience and efficiency of the national food supply chain.

The late Welge saw this as a need for the food industry. Welge earned a degree from LSU in agricultural economics and was the CEO and president of Gilster-Mary Lee Corporation — a private-label food manufacturing company. Welge’s family and friends started the Welge Food Beyond the Farm Certificate Fund to get the program started at his alma mater.

This certification, spearheaded by LSU College of Agriculture and the LSU E. J. Ourso College of Business, aims to equip professionals with advanced skills critical for navigating challenges within the food industry.

The program’s inception is rooted in Welge’s commitment to fortifying food systems. Welge’s son, Tom Welge, said this initiative was a true passion for his father.

“He recognized the need for a program such as this, even before COVID-19,” Tom Welge said. “The pandemic demonstrated that while our food system is strong, it certainly is not immune from failures.”

The graduate certificate in agribusiness program was developed by industry professionals who have a deep understanding of the challenges facing the agribusiness industry today. The program will integrate rigorous coursework from both colleges’ faculty, leveraging cutting-edge research and practical insights to prepare graduates for leadership roles in agricultural management, supply chain logistics and food system resilience.

The comprehensive curriculum concentrates on the competencies essential for success in food processing and supply chain management and blends the worlds of business and food sciences, offering a unique and valuable skill set.

Matt Lee, LSU vice president for agriculture and dean of the LSU College of Agriculture, said this certification adds another component to the career-readiness the college is doing in agribusiness and food sciences.

“The Food Beyond the Farm Program addresses a critical need in our supply chain systems. By training professionals in food supply logistics, we enhance system resilience and adaptability. This thoughtfully designed program prepares individuals to meet the future challenges of the supply chain head-on,” Lee said.

The program is flexible, so professionals in the food industry can take advantage of the online certification. The comprehensive curriculum equips students with a unique blend of skills that are in high demand within the field of agribusiness.

Graduates of the program will be well-positioned to contribute to the growth and sustainability of local, national and global food systems. Jared Llorens, dean of the E. J. Ourso College of Business, said his college was excited to be part of this interdisciplinary program.

“With this team approach, we can meet a critical workforce need in the food industry by equipping students with essential food sciences and business skills,” Llorens said. “This program will have a lasting impact on the industry. I cannot think of a more fitting way to celebrate Don Welge’s legacy and vision.”

Before his death in 2020, Don Welge worked to gather support for the program from industry representatives who agreed that this was a missing piece in advanced workforce education.

“Seeing this program move forward at LSU is not only a very meaningful tribute to him, but a way to help support and protect our food industry into the future,” Tom Welge said.

More information about the certification can be found here,

Don Welge.

LSU has launched a new online certification in Agribusiness supported by the Welge Food Beyond the Farm Initiative in honor of the late Don Welge, pictured. Welge was the CEO and president of Gilster-Mary Lee Corporation and envisioned a program to help food industry professionals advance their knowledge and strengthen the food supply chain. Photo provided.

7/9/2024 1:48:09 PM
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