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Food Science Mission and Vision

Vision Statement

To have a positive impact on safety, quality, and wholesomeness of our food supply.

Mission Statement

To improve food safety and quality through fundamental and applied research; prepare graduates for careers in the global food industry or health profession; deliver effective outreach education to citizens of Tennessee and beyond.


On July 1, 1972, Dr. Webster Pendergrass, Vice President for Agriculture, announced the formation of a new department called Food Technology and Science (FT&S). This new unit combined all teaching, research, and extension operations in the Institute of Agriculture (UTIA) that were related to foods into a single department. The initial faculty members were drawn from the Departments of Dairy, Animal Husbandry/Vet Science, and Food Technology. Dr. J.T. Miles, Head of the Dairy Department, was appointed to lead the new group. Faculty included Dr. Jimmy L. Collins and Dr. Melvin Johnston (Food Technology), Dr. Curtis C. Melton and Dr. William R. Backus (Meat Science), Dr. Bobby J. Demott, Dr. Woodrow W. Overcast, and Dr. Hugh O. Jaynes (Dairy),​​ and Dr. J. Orvin Mundt (Microbiology). Extension Specialists were Mr. Herbert C. Holt (Dairy Products), Dr. Frank D. Kirkpatrick (Meats), and Mr. Ivon E. McCarty (General Food Processing). Departmental facilities included McLeod Hall, part of McCord Hall, and the UT Creamery (now the Food Safety and Processing Building). For many years the U.T. Creamery was the source of milk and dairy products for UT. Mr. Herman Carringer was the manager until his retirement in December 1983. Mr. Tommy Burch took over as manager in March 1984. Due to financial constraints, the Creamery was closed in the fall of 1989.

One of the first tasks when the department was formed in 1972 was to develop curricula for B.S. and M.S. programs. Undergraduate requirements were developed to meet those required to meet Institute of Food Technologists guidelines. Undergraduate programs are approved by the Higher Education Review Board of the Institute of Food Technologists (the professional society of food science and technology). The original B.S. curriculum satisfied the requirements and the program has remained on the approved list since, with the latest approval being received in 2009. Soon after its formation, the department began work for a Ph.D. program. A proposal for a Ph.D. program in FT&S was drafted in 1974, approved by the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources and sent forward for approval by the Graduate School. The process was long, complicated, and required many revisions. With the arrival of Dr. C. W. Minkel as Dean of The Graduate School, the proposal moved quickly and was inaugurated fall quarter 1981. The curriculum was revised significantly in 1988 when the University of Tennessee moved to the semester system.

The University of Tennessee Department of Food Science and Technology is the only food science department at any university in the state of Tennessee.

Department Statistics

Department of Food Science Timeline

Historical Student Enrollment

Faculty Members (1972-Present)

Department Heads




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