Niagara University’s Holzschuh College of Business Administration has received a $1.5 million gift from Wegmans Family Foundation to establish the Robert B. Wegman Endowed Director of Food Industry Innovation and Supply Chain Excellence and named Jack Ampuja, former executive-in-residence for the college and executive director of its Center for Supply Chain Excellence, to the new position. Ampuja will lead the growth and development of the centers of Food Industry Leadership and Supply Chain Excellence and will guide the efforts in creating a leading-edge facility on campus to house the centers. He will also collaborate with food industry leaders in Western New York and Ontario to create, build, and inspire transformative programs and partnerships that reach the pinnacle of global excellence and enrich the educational and career opportunities for students.
“This generous gift from Wegmans Family Foundation will advance Niagara University’s work to strengthen our academic programs focused on the food industry and the field of supply chain management, providing more impactful career pathways for our students and important collaborations and opportunities for our corporate partners,” said the Rev. James J. Maher, C.M., Niagara University president. “In addition, these programs provide an interdisciplinary approach to potential solutions to the food insecurity we witness in our surrounding community.”
“This gift from Wegmans Family Foundation provides us the means to move to the forefront of food industry and supply chain education,” said Dr. Mark Frascatore, dean of the college. “Our graduates will be prepared to become the next generation of leaders in these dynamic and important industries.”
“At Wegmans, we believe education creates opportunity,” said Colleen Wegman, president and CEO of Wegmans Food Markets. “We’re proud to partner with Niagara University to help prepare the next generation of food industry professionals for their future in this essential business.”
Robert Wegman, who was known as one of the most respected and influential leaders in the supermarket industry, graduated with a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Niagara University in 1941. In 2007, he was recognized in the university’s inaugural class of the Niagara Legacy – Alumni of Distinction.
Ampuja is president and CEO of Supply Chain Optimizers, a consulting firm specializing in supply chain efficiencies and logistics strategy for companies including Office Depot, Target Stores, and ConAgra Foods. A frequent speaker across the country and around the world, Ampuja appeared on WGRZ-TV Channel 2 in Buffalo, N.Y., more than 25 times during the COVID pandemic. He has written or been interviewed in trade publications such as Refrigerated & Frozen Foods, Frozen Foods Digest, and Supply Chain Management Review.
Ampuja is certified by the American Society of Transportation and Logistics, by the International Customer Service Association, and by the National Association of Purchasing Management. He has held officer positions with ASTL, NAPM, and the Canadian American Border Trade Alliance, where he co-chaired the transportation committee for five years. He also served on the Grocery Manufacturers of America’s logistics committee and is a 35-year member of the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals. He has testified before U.S. Congress as a transportation expert and has been featured on the cover of Logistics Management magazine.
Niagara’s interdisciplinary food industry leadership program enables students to gain valuable experience and knowledge about the vast and diverse food industry while they pursue their chosen academic field. Recognized experts and professionals in the field of food logistics, global food systems, and food supply chain management teach the classes, assuring that the courses are current and relevant.
Niagara’s supply chain management course offerings are being expanded with the guidance of an advisory board consisting of distinguished supply chain executives from the United States and Canada and will better prepare students for work in logistics, transportation, and global trade.
Together, these programs will form the foundation of an innovative, multidisciplinary initiative that will meet current and emerging needs in the food industry. These include meeting the increased demand for organic and locally sourced food, an increased emphasis on farm-to-table systems, and developing the supply chain expertise necessary for moving the food materials from sourcing to the final consumers.