Honorary Alumni Awards are granted by the Alumni Association to persons who are not graduates of Penn State "but have made significant contributions toward its welfare, reputation or prestige." This award is not given every year to our college. Our most recent recipient is Dr. Charles L. Duncan.

2000 Honorary Alumnus

Dr. Charles L. Duncan
Vice President of Research and Development
Hershey Foods

Truly an ardent supporter of Penn State, the College of Agricultural Sciences, and the Food Science program, Charles Duncan has taken a leadership role at the University for two decades. As vice president of research and development at Hershey Foods, Dr. Duncan is a major figure in the U.S. food industry, and, as such, many demands are placed on his time and resources. However, he has made Penn State a permanent priority in his life, and his efforts have been rewarded by high-impact results at the University.

Through Dr. Duncan's commitment to Penn State and the food industry, a close affiliation has developed between Hershey Foods and faculty and staff primarily in the Department of Food Science--an affiliation that has brought many benefits to Penn State students, including an expanding internship program that enables five to ten students per year to gain experience at Hershey Foods. Dr. Duncan also realizes that the quality of a department's graduates is a direct function of the quality of faculty and staff and resources available. Consequently, he has worked diligently to ensure that industry resources are committed to the University. His leadership established the multimillion-dollar endowment of the cocoa research program through the American Cocoa Research Institute. At present, the endowed program has wide international visibility and involves several undergraduates and graduates in innovative research. Dr. Duncan's work in this area is ongoing. Currently, he serves a role on the Scientific Advisory Committee in securing additional funding and transferring intellectual property rights from Hershey Foods to Penn State. He is also the prime architect in directing a Hershey Foods-funded graduate fellowship to the Department of Food Science for the last four years.

Dr. Duncan brings an impressive educational background and business experience to his work at Penn State. The holder of a bachelor of science degree in secondary education from the University of Tennessee, a master of science degree in bacteriology from Louisiana State University, and a Ph.D. in bacteriology from the University of Wisconsin, he has published more than 70 scientific articles in peer-reviewed journals. His contributions to Penn State are extensive. For example, through his commitment as a member of a USDA-sponsored external team of scientists, he reviewed courses in the Food Science program. This massive time commitment led to recommendations that significantly improved the quality of food science programs. More recently, Dr. Duncan has lent support to the Penn State Center for Food Manufacturing, in which Hershey Foods was a charter member and continues to be a member. His vision to provide support in the nascent stages proved critical to establishing this organization, which now includes 29 different member companies and supports research projects, thus creating new opportunities for graduate students. In addition, his work with the central Pennsylvania section of the professional organization the Institute of Food Technologists has brought strong interest in the work of the Department of Food Science and offered many opportunities for students to gain entry into the industry.

Dr. Duncan has lent considerable guidance to developing and funding the much-needed new Food Science Building. Serving on the Food Industry Executive Committee in support of the improvement of facilities in Food Science and as chairman of the Government Liaison Subcommittee, Dr. Duncan traveled frequently to bring support to the project. "His efforts are such that people assume he is a Penn State alumnus," and they have far-reaching effects on the opportunities for students and faculty members at Penn State.

Previous Honorary Alumni Award Recipients

1993--Maurice K. Goddard and Jerome K. Pasto

1992--Frank S. and Nina Cobb

1977--Russell E. Larson

Associate Director of Alumni Relations

Kelly Praskovich
  • Associate Director of Alumni Relations

Development and Alumni Relations


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