School of Packaging – Spring Semester 2016 Director’s Update

Posted: May 26th, 2016 by Michigan State Alumni Association

Hello, Packaging friends and family. We’ve successfully completed another academic year, and we’re catching our breath before gearing up for fall. Summer is always a quieter time at the School. While we do have two on-line classes and two overseas study programs going on this summer, most of the undergrads and some of the graduate students are gone from campus, and many faculty are in and out – which makes parking a lot easier!

Spring graduation was an exciting event. BS degrees were awarded to 115 Packaging students, with another 28 planning to graduate this summer but “walking” in the spring ceremony. We had by far the largest contingent at the CANR graduation ceremony. When the 93 students who graduated fall semester are included, that totals over 230 new Packaging alumni this year! Total undergrad enrollment for spring semester was down to about 750 students, so our increased admission requirements are having an effect in moving us towards our goal of undergrad enrollment close to the 1980-2010 average of about 500 (freshmen through seniors). And, anecdotal evidence from faculty is that average performance of our undergrads in our packaging classes continues to improve, which means that employers hiring our new graduates will benefit from their increased skills.

A substantial revision in the undergraduate curriculum was approved by the University this spring, and goes into effect in the fall. Students beginning the program Fall 2016 or later will earn a concentration in either Packaging Science or Packaging Value Chain, which will appear on their transcripts. Students in the Packaging Science concentration will be required to take either Food Packaging or Medical Packaging along with additional courses in technical subjects. Students in the Packaging Value Chain concentration will be required to take the new Packaging Value Chain class along with additional business-related courses. The old Packaging Graphics course (PKG 330) will be Packaging for Fast Moving Consumer Goods (PKG 430), and the Packaging and the Environment course (PKG 370) will become Packaging Sustainability (PKG 470). Packaging Decision Systems (PKG 315) will incorporate more economics and an introduction to life cycle assessment. Packaging Development (PKG 485) will be split into two classes, PKG 485 and PKG 486, Packaging Senior Capstone, with the latter focusing entirely on the packaging design project. There are also some changes in the graduate curriculum and in other courses, but these are the highlights. Along with these curriculum modifications, there is increased emphasis on assessment of learning outcomes and using that information for continuous improvement of the curriculum.

In other news, Patrick McDavid has joined the School as an instructor. He’ll be teaching the Distribution Packaging Dynamics course (PKG 410) this fall, as Dr. Gary Burgess enters his consulting year and will retire next May. We’re in various stages of the search process for 3 new tenure system faculty. We continue to work on improving our laboratory facilities for both teaching and research. Among our new acquisitions are a 5-layer cast film line, and a combination check weigher/metal detector. Earlier this month we had another successful offering of our Packaging Basics course, with participants from industry, often new to packaging roles, getting a broad grounding in the discipline. Some of them voiced interest in continuing their education in our on-line MS program! This fall, we’ll be offering Food Packaging Basics as well as the Healthcare Packaging Immersion Experience. Details are on our website,

Dr. Eva Almenar’s research on prolonging the shelf life of fresh produce was featured May 16 in MSU Today ( While the article talked about onions, she’s done similar research with a variety of other types of vegetables and fruit. She also heavily involves undergraduates in her research, with several becoming co-authors on published papers. Because of a grant from the Packaging Alumni Association, which supplements funding offered through the College, we’ve been able to offer financial support to additional talented undergraduates working with several of our faculty on research projects, part of our ongoing efforts to increase the research productivity of the School, in keeping with the goals outlined in our 2015 Strategic Plan.

2016 Diretor's Update

In April, we held our annual Awards Banquet at Kellogg Center. More than 130 student award winners, family members, scholarship donors, members of our Advisory Board, and faculty and staff attended the celebration. Many attendees took advantage of the opportunity to get their picture taken with our special guest, Sparty!

I hope you all have a relaxing summer, and an enjoyable fall. The plan is for this to be the first in an ongoing series of updates, to try to better communicate with all of you what is going on at the School. And, I’d love to hear from you, as well.

Sue Selke,