Ditzler '75 Urges Colleges to Remember Agriculture

by Howard Hewitt

February 19, 2011

Nearly 100 faculty, alumni, students, and guests wrapped up a day of celebrating food and the liberal arts Friday with a Bon Appetit feast and words from former Dean of the College Mauri Ditzler ’75.

Wally Bon Vivant: A Spicy Symposium on Food and the Liberal Arts, jointly sponsored by the National Association of Wabash Men and the College's faculty and staff, featured afternoon seminars on all things food. The day was capped with Bon Appetit presenting an evening meal prepared with 90 percent local products.
Former Dean of the College, and now Monmouth College President, Mauri Ditzler ’75 gave the keynote address. He peppered his remarks with stories of Wabash and of his times as a student and the College dean. But he turned quite serious talking about agriculture.
He struggled to explain why he loves his family farm in Parke County and joy he got from years of leading detasseling teams into the cornfields.
But he didn’t mince words when talking about the liberal arts and the need to raise agriculture’s profile.
“Where are the most valuable resources in the world right now,” he asked. “It’s the Midwest.”
Ditzler talked about the need to feed the world and take advantage of the Midwest’s natural assets. “When bright students come to our colleges we need to talk about all of the issues important to growing food and building a community,” he said. “Liberal Arts colleges in the Midwest can’t ignore agriculture.”
He acknowledged liberal arts schools don’t have Ag programs, but the importance of agriculture and all of the surrounding issues should be a bigger point of emphasis.
The Monmouth President suggested no one could better educate young people about the challenges of environment, world population growth, feeding millions, and doing it all safely than liberal arts colleges.
Bon Appetit’s Executive Chef Jordan Hall and the catering staff took extended bows after dessert was served following Ditzler’s comments. Dessert was an Indiana goat-cheese cheesecake with Hoosier blueberries that drew raves.
See photos from the dinner here.
The daylong symposiums will all be posted to the Wabash College YouTube Channel in the coming week. Look under Playlists for Wally Bon Vivant.
The symposium's topics ranged from corn to whiskey and wine to political food for thought. See photos from the sessions leading up to dinner here.


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