Dean Jason Evans Joins JWU’s College of Food Innovation & Technology

Aligned with its strategic focus as an evolving comprehensive university, Johnson & Wales University (JWU) is expanding its world-renowned culinary education with an interdisciplinary approach to food and its impact on people, industries and the world.

With the new College of Food Innovation & Technology (CFIT), JWU is preparing students to explore the role of food in everyday life, with a focus on science, nutrition, sustainability, safety, policy, business, and product development and design.

“The need for problem solvers in the food system is greater now than ever.” -Dean Jason Evans, Ph.D.

Food is increasingly seen as a central driver of the economy with agriculture, food and related industries responsible for about 11% of U.S. employment and over 5% of the country’s gross domestic product in 2019. With CFIT’s focus on the broad interconnections in the food economy, JWU’s CFIT graduates will become the new problem solvers and innovators in a wide realm of food-related industries, forging new pathways to healthier eating, more sustainable food systems, greater food security, and more efficient food production and delivery systems.

“The launch of the College of Food Innovation & Technology has begun an exciting new chapter in the history of our 107-year-old university,” said Chancellor Mim L. Runey, LP.D. “In 1973, Johnson & Wales first began offering classes in culinary arts. Now, four decades later, we are building on that very strong foundation of teaching and expertise to take food education to the next level with CFIT, as we explore food’s global economic impact on society and seek innovate solutions to improve people’s lives.”

Dean Jason Evans, Ph.D., of the College of Food Innovation & Technology

To provide leadership and vision for this new interdisciplinary college, Johnson & Wales has appointed Jason R. Evans, Ph.D., as dean. He joined the university earlier this month at JWU’s flagship Providence, Rhode Island, campus.

“We welcome Jason to our academic leadership team and look forward to his work with our talented faculty universitywide. He brings years of research, teaching and real-world experience in food systems, agri-business management and food policy contexts to JWU,” said Runey. “With his leadership and collaboration with our academic and industry partners, Johnson & Wales University will continue to shape the future of food by defining its powerful role in people’s lives and its impact on our world.”

"We owe our modern quality of life to the scientists, farmers, healthcare professionals and policymakers who blended innovation with soil and water to make nutritious food, and to the food scientists and chefs who made it all more delicious and more convenient,” said JWU Dean Evans. “Very few organizations in the country have the intellectual and physical assets to prepare students for all of these roles, but CFIT does. Undoubtedly, the need for problem solvers in the food system is greater now than ever. CFIT can offer its prospective students, partners and donors a unique opportunity to make the world better."

From 2016 through 2019, Evans chaired the the State University of New York (SUNY) Cobleskill Agricultural & Food Management department, which offers associate’s and bachelor’s degrees in the Culinary Arts and a bachelor’s degree in Food Systems and Technology.

For the past three years, Evans has been the executive director of SUNY Cobleskill’s Institute for Rural Vitality whose mission is to revitalize rural communities across New York. Prior to joining JWU, Evans was an associate professor in Agricultural Business Management at SUNY Cobleskill. He is a sought-after speaker, giving keynote addresses on the challenges and opportunities facing the agricultural industry.

Dean Evans introduced himself to the JWU community with a video greeting. Watch:

JWU’s expertise in food began in 1973 when it launched New England’s first associate in science (A.S.) degree in Culinary Arts to respond to the need for educated food management professionals and chefs. For nearly half a century, JWU has kept a well-earned reputation as a premier national food service educator was established when it became the first university in the country to offer a bachelor of science degree in Culinary Arts (1993) and to offer a bachelor of science degree in Baking and Pastry Arts (1997). In 1999, the university added a bachelor’s in Culinary Nutrition that soon became the first program of its kind to receive accreditation from the American Dietetic Association (ADA).

Since JWU’s founding in 1914, the school has developed academic programs based on industry’s needs. Its unique approach of combining classroom lectures and presentations with hands on and experiential learning have prepared more than 100,000 graduates for advancement in the workforce.

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