Keith Belk named Monfort Chair

Portriat of Dr. Keith Belk, professor in the department of Animal Sciences at Colorado State Univeristy, December 23, 2014
Professor of Animal Sciences Keith Belk

Receiving a named chair is one of the highest honors a university can bestow on its faculty members. Now, Animal Sciences Professor Keith Belk will hold one of the oldest named chairs at Colorado State University, the Monfort Chair.

The Monfort Family has a long history at CSU and also established a Monfort Lecture series, Monfort Professors who are appointed by the provost for two-year terms, and the Monfort Scholars program which provides support for outstanding students.

The Monfort Chair

The Monfort Chair, a named professorship, is in a category all its own. The chair does not have a term limit, and the funds provided by the endowment support the chair’s lab staffing, administrative support, and travel. Belk can also use these funds for speaking engagements, marketing the university and the department, and as he works to obtain new grant funding.

“It is an honor to be recognized as contributing to the legacy of Kenny and Myra Monfort,” said Belk. “I am also honored to follow in the footsteps of Dr. Gary Smith, the first holder of the Monfort Chair who is one of the most recognizable names in the field of meat sciences.”

For the last five years, after Smith left CSU, the chair has remained empty, although Smith recently returned to CSU as a visiting professor and advisor to CSU President Tony Frank.

“The Monfort Chair is one of three named chairs in the Department of Animal Sciences,” said Kevin Pond, head of the Department of Animal Sciences. “Filling the chair was important to our department as it was to the Monfort Family.”

Ken Monfort

The reputation of the Monfort Family across the state of Colorado is well-known as they helped establish, along with W.D. Farr and Bill Webster, the cattle feeding industry in Colorado. Additionally, the family benefited from research conducted by Animal Sciences Emeritus Professor John Matsushima who helped pioneer the practice of steam flaking corn.

Among an elite group of researchers

“Professor Belk is among an elite group of researchers who are defining field of meat safety both in the U.S. and abroad,” said Ajay Menon, dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences. “His research has helped advance our knowledge of food safety, prevention of food-borne illnesses, and international trade.”

“The Monfort Family Chair exemplifies the family’s belief in the value of strong science and outstanding agricultural education for the students of Colorado and speaks to their central role in the rich history of the Colorado cattle and beef industry,” Menon added. “Because of his breakthrough research and his commitment to training the next generation of meat scientists, it is only appropriate that Professor Belk be appointed Monfort Chair in Animal Sciences.”