I am honored to have been elected the 61st President of IFT. My mission, which I hope will also be yours, is to implement the process for IFT to achieve its global purposes.
For the past year as President Elect, I have worked with members and IFT staff to update IFT’s Global Strategic Plan, “Vision 2020.” Two related strategic plan documents have been used to guide the Institute: the first, focusing on “local needs,” was developed in 1997, and the second, emphasizing global activities, was developed in 1999. The Institute now requires one strategic plan to ensure clear direction and synergy at both local and global levels.
Current IFT documents were reviewed, including the two previous plans, the Constitution, and the Policy and Procedures Manual. IFT leaders and staff were asked to update concepts and provide direction to the Institute’s operations, a focus group was held with the Technical Presentations Subcommittee, and the new Strategic Plan Subcommittee of the Executive Committee reviewed and edited the draft document.
The final version of Vision 2020 was approved by the Executive Committee on June 10, 2000. The entire document can be found on the IFT Web site (www.ift.org). Here are key highlights, with brief comments.
The Institute of Food Technologists will be globally recognized as a primary resource for food science and technology.
The Institute of Food Technologists advances the science and technology of food through the exchange of knowledge.
• IFT will be a primary worldwide resource for scientific and professional food science and technology information. Today, IFT is one of many providers of food-related information. Information dissemination technology is changing at a rapid rate. To achieve a leadership role, IFT must establish high quality, reliability, and user-friendliness of its information, and must engage in significant research and development to stay abreast of new technology in information transfer.
• IFT will be members’ primary resource for knowledge and professional development. Maintaining high standards in education and preserving academic quality are important objectives. The challenges and opportunities facing IFT members seeking professional advancement are continuously changing. To meet them, IFT needs to work with academic leaders and employers, and must be highly responsive to the changing needs of its members for continuing education and career counseling and services.
• IFT will be a leading advocate for science on food-related issues. As governmental budgets become increasingly constrained and industry continues to streamline operations, IFT must lead the formation of alliances with scientific and engineering societies to unify its message that increased support for research is a necessary investment in the future. IFT’s new Washington, D.C., office, its interaction with Congress, the continued development of scientific position papers, and participation in key international policy-making organizations are cornerstones of IFT’s education and advocacy efforts.
• IFT will be acknowledged and respected as a supporter of organizations with common interests. IFT’s exploration of mutual interest, common goals, and relationships with other societies, both within and outside the United States, is beginning to bear fruit. We need to preserve such relationships and to build new types of collaboration with non-U.S. societies. The International Union of Food Science and Technology (IUFoST) presents a particular opportunity for further collaboration with such societies and will be IFT’s vehicle for its global purpose and responsibilities. (See pp. 48–52 for a thoughtful article by J. Ralph Blanchfield, IFT’s own global statesman-extraordinaire, in which he explores the past, current, and future roles of IFT in IUFoST).
• IFT will continue to be financially secure and stable. IFT offers extensive membership services and programs which cannot be supported by member dues alone. Therefore, IFT must ensure continued success in producing income from its Annual Meeting & Food Expo, advertising, and all other activities with income-producing capabilities.
Two new sections have been created within Vision 2020. The first treats the plan as a “living” document which needs to be updated annually. The leadership role for the review and updating is now overseen by the Strategic Plan Subcommittee of the Executive Committee, chaired by the President-Elect. The second is an assessment section which creates “tangible measurements” by which the Institute has a “yardstick” to assess improvements and determine whether we are meeting our desired outcomes.
Implementation of Vision 2020 will involve many colleagues in different functions and geographic locations. To some, these upcoming changes may be challenging, frightening, difficult, or insufficient. But with our new vision, courage, great effort, and high-quality standards that characterize IFT, our leaders and membership can drive changes needed to fulfill the plan.
Won’t you be part of that change? Be ambitious, commit, teach, encourage, and support.
by MARY K. SCHMIDL
IFT President, 2000–2001