Be they students working toward a college degree in grain science or wheat professionals on campus for a quick lesson, thousands have experienced the sights, sounds and smells of wheat being milled into flour inside Shellenberger Hall at Kansas State University’s (KSU).

It won’t be long before the final kernels are gristed, separated and sifted inside the six decades-old building, which has been instrumental in the education and development of milling experts around the world.

Shellenberger Hall, long the center of the Kansas State University’s Grain Science and Industry program, will be torn down, according to KSU’s College of Agriculture. Earlier this month, KSU announced plans to upgrade facilities, including construction of a Global Center for Grain and Food Innovation Center. While it will not be built on the current site of Shellenberger Hall, the new facility will become the centerpiece of the grain program. According to KSU’s plans, the Innovation Center will be built to the west of the Grain Science Complex that includes the Hal Ross Flour Mill, O.H. Kruse Feed Mill, International Grains Program (IGP) Institute and other facilities.

Currently, Shellenberger houses the milling science pilot classroom. Teaching mills are located on the first floor, along with the Baking Science Lab.

Photo shows the flour milling classroom at Kansas State University (KSU) Shellenberger Hall with industry students test milling flour.

Currently, KSU’s Shellenberger Hall houses the milling science pilot classroom. Teaching mills are located on the first floor (above during a recent education program for U.S. industry and farmers, along with the Baking Science Lab.

Long and Storied History

“KSU’s Department of Grain Science and Industry has a long and storied history of career pathways into the flour milling industry worldwide and research and promotion of U.S.-grown wheat,” said Justin Gilpin, CEO of Kansas Wheat. “It’s exciting to see this new investment in infrastructure that will further enhance not only the student experience but the capacity for wheat industry engagement, research, and promotion of U.S. wheat usage and exports.”

This important addition to KSU’s Grain Science and Industry program holds promise toward reverse a trend in declining enrollment in flour milling and baking industry management programs.

Shellenberger Hall, named after John Shellenberger, head of KSU’s Department of Flour and Feed Milling from 1944 to 1966, has been a key waypoint for KSU graduates – and others. State wheat associations and organizations such as U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) regularly send staff and board members to KSU to learn the details of flour milling in short courses offered by KSU and IGP. In all cases, Shellenberger Hall has been instrumental in milling education.

Bigger Reach and Impact

“Walk into any flour mill in the United States and you’ll likely find a graduate from KSU’s milling science program presiding over the operation,” Arvin Donley, editor of World Grain, wrote in a recent editorial on the university’s plans. “Many of the industry’s future leaders will pass through the milling program, which is why having top-notch academic facilities to attract prospective students will not only benefit the university but the flour milling industry as well. The program also has sent hundreds of graduates to flour mills around the world over the years, making it a program with a truly global impact.”

An artist rendering of a new Global Center for Grain and Food Innovation Center at Kansas State University.

An artist rendering of a new Global Center for Grain and Food Innovation Center at Kansas State University. Construction is scheduled to start in 2024. Courtesy of Kansas State University.

Dr. Ernie Minton, dean of KSU’s College of Agriculture and director of K-State Research and Extension, said the project will begin with construction of an agronomy center that will house the field research component of the Department of Agronomy, including the wheat breeding program, and renovations to the Department of Animal Science’s Weber Hall and Call Hall. That project is expected to be completed in 2024. Construction of the new Global Grain and Food Innovation Center is scheduled to follow.

The photo at the top of this page, courtesy of Kansas State University, is an artist’s rendering of a proposed building at Kansas State University to replace Shellenberger Hall for the Department of Grain Science and Industry.

USW will follow the progress of this exciting addition to KSU’s programs and share more information as it is available.

By USW Director of Communications Ralph Loos