Nick Rozzi (back row, second from right) regularly returns to campus to serve as a guest lecturer for FS 443, Food Product Design — Capstone.
This article is the eighth in a series highlighting the 2014 recipients of the Purdue University College of Agriculture’s Distinguished Agriculture Alumni Award. The award honors mid-career alumni who have a record of outstanding accomplishments, have made significant contributions to their profession or society, and have exhibited high potential for professional growth.
The 11 honorees are John Becherer, Lynda M. Ciuffetti, Johann (Joe) R. Garwood, Anetra L. Harbor, Carl C. Kincaid, Donald J. Leopold, Maurício Antônio Lopes, Nicholas L. Rozzi, S. Richard Tolman, Geoffrey C. Waldbieser and Carla N. Yerkes. They will receive their awards Friday, March 7, during a public reception and convocation in the Purdue Memorial Union North Ballroom.
Nicholas Rozzi, BS ’97, PhD ’01, was born outside Philadelphia. Now, after living in eight different states, he has found his way back to Pennsylvania as director of global commercialization for Godiva Chocolatier Inc. in Reading. Godiva manufactures and sells premium chocolates and confections in more than 10,000 locations in 80 countries worldwide.
Rozzi joined Godiva in 2007 as North American commercialization manager and was appointed to his present position in 2010. He has responsibility for the transition of products from bench-top, chef-designed prototypes through pilot and industrial production on a global scale, leading teams based out of Reading and Brussels, Belgium.
Rozzi continues to support the Purdue Department of Food Science. As an adjunct faculty member, Rozzi shares his expertise and enthusiasm for product development and the technical aspects of food science as a regular guest lecturer in core food science classes and as a general mentor to undergraduate and graduate students.
Which Purdue faculty member had the most profound impact on your professional career? There have been many great faculty members at Purdue, so it is hard to identify just one.
As an undergraduate, there were my academic adviser(s) and research adviser Dr. Jay Marks (retired) and Dr. Rakesh Singh (now department head at University of Georgia). Dr. Marks was my academic adviser for my first two years at Purdue and helped me find my way through course planning. As an upperclassman, Dr. Singh served as both my academic and undergraduate research adviser, helping me to develop as a researcher and, ultimately, enter graduate school.
As a graduate student, I would have to say my graduate advisory committee made up of Dr. Rakesh Singh (co-chair), Dr. Bruce Watkins (co-chair), Dr. Philip Nelson, and Dr. Richard Vierling. Their direction and support helped to develop me into the professional I am today.
What part of your visit back to campus in March are you most looking forward to? I always enjoy traveling back to the Department of Food Science and meeting with the faculty and students. Even though some of the names have changed since I was a student, I have been able to forge new relationships and continue my connection with the university. I also always take a walk around the campus in the evening to see how it has expanded and improved over the years.
Why did you select Purdue as the place to continue your education? A combination of factors went into my decision to attend Purdue for my undergraduate degree: academic reputation, cost and distance from home. I went to high school in Libertyville, Ill., so Purdue was not too close but not too far away. Though, when it came down to the final decision between Purdue University and University of Illinois, I always enjoyed my Purdue campus visits more than those to other schools.
Where was your favorite place on campus to study? As an undergraduate, I found the stacks in the Humanities, Social Science and Education Library (HSSE) and the Life Sciences Library to be nice places to study. They provided a quiet atmosphere while still having enough people around so you did not feel like a hermit. In the evenings, I used the Memorial Union, since it was easier to get dinner and an ideal location for group meetings.
As a graduate student, I did most of my studying in my office in the Food Science Building (now Nelson Hall of Food Science).
What do you miss most about your college days at Purdue? Taking walks on campus with my wife, Laura. We met and were married while in graduate school and used to take walks on campus for breaks while doing research or in the evenings. I even proposed to her on one of those walks next to the fountain in front of Hovde Hall.
Were you a good student when you were at Purdue? I was a solid B student for my undergraduate degree and an A/B student for graduate school, so I guess you could say “yes.” In addition to academics, I stayed busy by being active in the Food Science Club and the Delta Chi fraternity, and I enjoyed mountain biking with friends.
What was the most difficult course you took at Purdue? What made it so difficult for you? Organic chemistry. I had taken the introductory chemistry classes in high school, so I started right into organic chemistry as a freshman, not really knowing how to study. It was quite a change and forced me to quickly learn how to study for difficult courses.
What is the best advice you got while you were at Purdue? Who gave you the advice? In 1994, Steve Smith suggested I go to work in the food science pilot plant with him. This provided me with early experience in my major, helped to place me in my first and second internships, and introduced me to my best friend and classmate, Dr. Keith Vorst.
What is the best advice you have ever given? To whom did you give the advice? I come back to talk for FS 443 (Food Product Design — Capstone) every spring and always share this advice: Do not be afraid of taking on some of the dirty jobs that no one else wants to do. You can never be sure where they will lead. I did some work with the production team in my first job out of college, which led to my next two promotions.
Coming next: S. Richard Tolman, MS '78
Read about other 2014 Distinguished Agriculture Alumni Award winners.