KSU names Virgil Smail to lead Grain Science Department

Virgil W. Smail to succeed Donnelly as head of Grain Science and Industry at Kansas State University
June 9, 2004

Kansas State University has named Virgil W. Smail, president and chief executive officer of the American Institute of Baking, to head of the Department of Grain Science and Industry at Kansas State University, effective Sept. 1.

Smail will succeed Brendan J. Donnelly, who will retire July 1.

"We are thrilled to have attracted someone of the caliber of Virgil Smail to head grain science and industry at K-State," said Jon Wefald, president. "With our wonderful new facilities and Virgil at the helm, there is no limit to what can be accomplished here. He has a terrific reputation as a team player, and I know that his team is going places."

Established in 1910 as the Department of Milling Industries to train millers and study ways to improve the quality and utilization of wheat. The department added its feed curriculum in 1951 and its baking program in 1963. Kansas State University's Feed Science and Management program is a unique four-year degree programs  - the only one in the world designed to train individuals specifically for positions in the feed and allied industries; it is the only academic department in the United States that grants bachelor of science degrees in baking science, feed science or milling science and management.

The Department also is in the midst of a major effort that will consist of the construction of several new buildings.

Smail has been president and chief executive officer of the American Institute of Baking since November 1994. While there, he was responsible for expanding the overall institute programs from $8.4 to $19 million in income from operations and $16 to $20 million in total assets and investments. He has a history of working cooperatively with K-State, and with baking and allied industry representatives. He created, along with Marc Johnson, K-State's former dean of agriculture, along with the director of the U.S. Grain Marketing Research Laboratory, a consortium of the three institutions called the Grain Industry Alliance. The purpose is to help sell these collective programs to international development firms and better compete for international development contracts. He also helped build the largest food safety inspection program in the world; this program now inspects more than 8,000 food plants worldwide every year.

Provost James R. Coffman said, "Grain science and industry is central to K-State's role in the production and processing of grain and oilseeds. It includes a unique national strength in milling. Virgil Smail has a terrific combination of strengths and experience to lead this effort."

Fred Cholick, dean of the College of Agriculture and director of K-State Research and Extension, said, "I was very impressed with Virgil's global view of the department. He has a vision for all the components of grain science -- teaching, research and extension. He wants our students to be prepared to work in a global society. He also wants to address industry problems within the disciplines. He is both realistic and futuristic in his ideas about partnering with industry and enhancing K-State's reputation locally, regionally and nationally."

Before joining the American Institute of Baking, Smail was director of the U.S. Grain Marketing Research Laboratory in Manhattan from 1991 to 1994. He was also a vice president of a biotechnology company in the 1980s as well as a research scientist for the United States government.

He was the first executive director and helped create the Agricultural Utilization Research Institute in the state of Minnesota, which has been functioning since its creation and has helped hundreds of companies in developing value-added agricultural businesses.

He is a current or former member of the boards of directors of the American Bakers Association, International Cereal Chemists, Mid-America Commercialization Corporation, Grain Industry Alliance, where he is a former chairman, Nutri-Joy Inc., International Fiber Corporation, among others. He is past president of the Milling and Baking Division, American Association of Cereal Chemists, as well as past president of the board of directors.

Smail earned a Ph.D. in crop breeding specializing in wheat genetics, with a plant pathology minor and a master of science in agronomy with a statistics minor, both from Montana State University, Bozeman. He has a bachelor's degree in biology with a chemistry minor from Earlham College, Richmond, Ind.