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Department of Food Science and Technology


How (and why) CFAES faculty should apply for the Food Systems Leadership Institute

March 3, 2021
2020 FSLI Fellows

If you’re a faculty member in CFAES and are thinking about applying for the national Food Systems Leadership Institute (FSLI), Sheryl Barringer has some advice for you.

“Do it!”

Barringer, who is professor and chair of the CFAES Department of Food Science and Technology, recently completed FSLI’s intensive leadership development program.

The program, its website says, prepares “highly qualified leaders to address a range of issues relating to the food system by developing their personal, organizational, and food system leadership abilities.” 

Each year, a new group, or cohort, of 25 Fellows—food- and agriculture-related faculty and administrators from around the United States and Canada—is selected to start the two-year program.


“It absolutely is a fabulous program,” said Barringer, a Fellow in FSLI’s Cohort 14, which wrapped up late last year.

“I’d recommend it to anyone with any interest in leadership,” she said.

Three other Buckeyes were also in Cohort 14:


The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) runs FSLI with support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and three partner institutions:

  • North Carolina State University, the primary host institution
  • California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo
  • Ohio State

The institute starts with a “battery of assessment tests to increase your self-awareness,” Barringer said. “It proceeds to a number of excellent strategies for improving your leadership, and really expands your awareness of the issues facing society and higher education.” 

A key element in the program: residential sessions, featuring case studies, simulations, and conversations with leaders and subject-matter experts. The partner institutions host the sessions, which are currently being held virtually because of the pandemic.


Barringer said FSLI taught her “many, many things.” She gave two examples: 

  • “The program talks about ‘The Powerful Apology.’ It is inevitable that you will make a mistake, or the organization you represent will make a mistake, that causes harm. There are several aspects that are needed in the apology that you should include. These elements include responding quickly, taking responsibility for the problem, explaining what happened, explaining the solution, asking for forgiveness, connecting personally, and acknowledging compassion.” 

  • “For my project, I looked deeply into the topic of inspiring faculty. This includes both supporting the high achiever, and assisting someone who is no longer very productive. These require two different approaches, but both are critical and something I use almost daily. I’ve made a few presentations on this topic, and I’m sure I will continue to learn more throughout my career.”


CFAES has two Fellows in FSLI’s now-underway Cohort 15Steven Neal, associate dean and director of academic programs, and Jacqueline Wilkins, associate dean and director of OSU Extension.

Graham Cochran, associate dean for operations, and Terry Niblack, now emeritus, Department of Plant Pathology, were Fellows in Cohort 13.

Ohio State recently hosted a session for the institute’s current Fellows, from Feb. 15–19, with 14 speakers including Cathann A. Kress, Ohio State vice president for agricultural administration and CFAES dean; Gary Pierzynski, CFAES associate dean for research and graduate education; and Ohio State Provost Bruce McPheron.


If you’re thinking about applying for FSLI, you should do it soon. The institute is currently accepting applications for the cohort that starts this fall, Cohort 17. Applications will be reviewed on March 22, but if the cohort isn’t filled at that time, reviews will continue until it’s full. 

Your first step in applying is to get an endorsement from a member of the CFAES senior leadership team. The endorsement form and further instructions can be found on FSLI’s “Apply” page.

You can also recommend a colleague for the institute. The form to do that can be downloaded on the “Apply” page too.