Carol Whitlock makes the rounds through the test kitchen in Eastman Hall as her Product Development students blend, grate, stir and mix their latest creations.
“I love her creativity and knowledge,” says Jayda Cooke, a nutrition management student originally from Westchester County, N.Y., who was making blood-orange olive oil infused pancakes with cottage cheese. “I wish she taught more courses.”
The students were developing recipes using olive oils and vinegars supplied by alumna Elizabeth Olsson ’95 (nutrition management). Olsson co-owns Flower City Olive Oil and hopes to share the students’ recipes with her customers.
Whitlock’s students have developed new food combinations for many companies, including Dove Chocolate Discoveries, Kraft Foods, Birdseye, Constellation Brands and Michael Cutler Carrots, because of partnerships Whitlock has established during her 40 years at RIT.
Whitlock joined RIT in 1972 after teaching at Penn State and receiving her Ph.D. in food science from the University of Massachusetts. The current chair of the Hospitality and Tourism Management department started in an office just a few doors down from her current location on the fourth floor of Eastman Hall.
Although the names of her courses have changed since those early days (the Product Development course used to be called Food Science), Whitlock’s passion for her students and department has not.
She points to the many company partnerships as one of her top accomplishments and quickly grabs a photo album to show photos of the foods her recent students have created. “I taste every single one of these,” she says, smiling.
The 1986 Eisenhart Award for Outstanding Teaching winner is proud of the many students she has watched go on to successful careers in food management and nutrition—like Olsson, who took the same Product Development class as a student.
Olsson says she was pleased with the recipes students developed using her oils and vinegars and was especially impressed with the plating of the dishes. “Several really were something you would see in a fine dining restaurant.”
As a senior faculty member and department chair, Whitlock says part of her job is to connect alumni with the current department and students and to continually update curricula and teaching methods.
She has too many goals to accomplish before she thinks about retiring. Those include expanding international opportunities for students to experience cultures and hospitality businesses globally, expanding industry contacts and assisting the department with the transition to semester conversion this fall.
“In this time of change, I am the figure of stability,” she says, adding that when she steps down as chair, it will be to teach. “I have a great job. Why would I leave?”