Mary K. Schmidl

This is the last of my 12 President’s Pages, and by the time you read this I will be within a few weeks of handing on the Presidential baton to Phil Nelson.

But, as Yogi Berra said, “It ain’t over till it’s over.” An essential part of IFT’s governance structure is the “three Presidents” system, and specific responsibilities must be fulfilled depending on the official position, be it President, President-Elect, or the immediate Past President. So although it seems an all-too-short one-year stint as President, it is really a three-year stint, performing each of those roles in turn within the “three Presidents” system.

Each IFT President comes to the role determined to “make a difference,” in order to help improve IFT and help it more effectively achieve its goals. A year flashes by very quickly, so each has to combine continuing the predecessor’s unfinished business, with leading the development and completion of new tasks and, inevitably, leaving some unfinished tasks in the best possible shape for the successor to lead to completion.

The Honor of Being Your President
We described this year’s IFT Annual Meeting as highlighting our Vision for Change. This refers not only to the changing world and the imperative need for food science and technology to meet the challenge of a changing world, but the need for IFT itself to change to meet that challenge. Over the past few years, IFT has itself recognized the need to make that change, the better to serve its members and the public interest, and the better to play its collaborative part in the world community of food science and technology. It has been my honor, privilege, and good fortune to serve as the President of IFT for 2000–01 and to take my turn in leading the continuation of that process. It is at one and the same time a proud and humbling experience, involving exhilaration, exhaustion, and gratitude.

Proud. Not in the sense of the pride which “goes before a fall,” but consciousness that there is no position in which one could take greater pride than that of being President of this wonderful Institute of Food Technologists.

Humbling. To realize that even in that eminent position one is no more than primus inter pares, a temporary first among equals, and however extensive one’s personal efforts, they are a drop in the ocean of efforts contributed by so many people, volunteers and staff.

Exhausting. During my period as President-Elect and President, in addition to the many leadership tasks, on IFT’s behalf I have spoken at 23 IFT Regional Section meetings, including our Japanese Section in April, and made 18 visits outside the USA, speaking at symposia organized by our Cooperating Society, IFST, 16 Allied Organizations and potential Allied Organizations all over the world, the ALACCTA and FIFSTA (ASEAN) regional conferences, and the IUFoST World Congresses of Food Science & Technology in Australia and Korea. The visits outside the USA have brought home to me, and I want to share with you, the following:

First, there are many excellent food scientists and technologists around the world, in many outstanding national food science and technology societies; we in IFT have bigger numbers and financial resources but we should not imagine that we have a monopoly in excellence.

Second, there is an increasing recognition in these national societies of IFT as a respected, helpful and collaborative partner, arising from our improved “positioning” with the rest of the world in recent years; in part from our declared policy in our Global Strategic Plan and in part from our actions consistent with that policy, and reflected in the genuine warmth with which I (and through me, IFT) was received and welcomed everywhere and in what they said to me.

Third, it is imperative that we maintain and develop IFT’s positioning and participation in and contribution to the world community of food science and technology, IUFoST.

Exhilarating. To see Vision 2020, on which so many members worked with me when I was President-Elect, adopted as IFT’s Global Strategic Plan and many features of it coming into effective operation, and to meet so many wonderful people and correspond with so many more.

Gratitude. I cannot find words powerful enough to express my gratitude to numerous members who have helped me directly; to the wider circle of dedicated IFT volunteers without whose efforts this organization could not function; to the IFT staff who help to make it all happen; to my family whose very considerable support and understanding have enabled me to serve, especially during the past two years and in the coming year as immediate Past President; and to the IFT membership who elected me. I have done my very best to repay their trust and will continue to do so. My time in this office is coming to an end, but my days of service are not. I will never hold a position higher within the Institute, but there is no title within IFT that I will hold more proudly than that of member.

IFT President, 2000–01