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September 27, 2003

Scholle family gift to fund chair in food processing at Purdue

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – The family of the late William R. Scholle, inventor of bag-in-box packaging, is donating $1.5 million to fund an endowed chair in the Purdue University Department of Food Science.

William R. Scholle

Purdue President Martin C. Jischke will announce the Scholle (pronounced Show-lee) gift today (Saturday, 9/27) at the President's Council breakfast before the Purdue-Notre Dame football game.

"William Scholle's invention had a major impact on the food industry," Jischke said. "His family's decision to honor him by establishing the William R. Scholle Endowed Chair in Food Processing will allow others to make significant contributions to the lives of people everywhere."

Scholle, a Purdue graduate who died in 1997, founded Scholle Chemical Co. in Chicago in 1947. He first used the bag-in-box packaging method to transport battery acid. Scholle returned to Purdue, where he and Phil Nelson combined the packaging with Nelson's aseptic technology to revolutionize storage and transport of fruit and vegetable products.

"We are making the donation in memory of my husband, who did such an astounding job of developing the packaging and building the company," said Sarah Scholle, of Corona del Mar, Calif., who married the inventor in 1947. "Bill received a good education at Purdue, and later he worked closely with Dr. Nelson in expanding the uses of bag-in-box.

"Our whole family not only loves Bill, but we also honor him for his work."

In recognition of the gift, the Scholle family will receive the Distinguished Pinnacle Award, the university's highest honor. Nelson, former head of the Department of Food Science, will accept the award on behalf of the family. Because the Scholle family is not able to attend the announcement celebration, Purdue officials will hold an event in California at a later date to honor them.

Nelson, who was department head from its founding in 1983 until he returned to teaching and researching this year, said his work with Scholle in developing aseptic packaging was groundbreaking for the food industry. Aseptic packaging allows longer storage and transport of fresh fruits and vegetables, including enabling processors to provide out-of-season products year-round throughout the world.

"Working with Bill was uplifting," Nelson said. "His business changed the whole way we moved products. I am so glad to have been a part of the work and a part of the Scholle success. He was an incredible person."

Nelson's successor as department head, Suzanne Nielsen, said the gift means a great deal not only to the department, but also on a personal level.

"The Scholles' very generous donation will allow the Department of Food Science to strengthen its work in food processing," Nielsen said. "This donation is a great tribute to Mr. Scholle, but it's also significant that his family has honored Phil for the work he did by establishing a chair in the department he headed beginning with its inception 20 years ago."

The Scholles have established the chair endowment with a $25,000 gift and will contribute the balance within 10 years. The $1.5 million will be matched by funds from the Bindley Chair Challenge, which began last year.

William Bindley, who graduated from Purdue with a bachelor's degree in industrial economics in 1962, gave $52 million to the university, including $22.5 million to be used to match donations given to establish 11 endowed chairs at Purdue's West Lafayette campus. A Terre Haute, Ind., native, he currently is chairman and chief executive officer of Bindley Capital Partners LLC, a private equity firm located in Indianapolis and Naples, Fla.

William Scholle, a Pennsylvania native, graduated from Purdue's School of Chemical Engineering in 1938. He began his chemical business in his Chicago home in 1945 and founded Scholle Chemical Co. two years later.

Shortly after his development of bag-in-box packaging, the Interstate Commerce Commission and the Bureau of Explosives approved its use for shipping. Delco Batteries became a major customer and used the system to ship 30 million gallons of battery acid annually. The packaging now is used for many products, including wine.

Scholle later moved the company to California. Now named the Scholle Corp., it's based in Irvine, Calif.

The Packaging Education Foundation inducted Scholle into the Packaging Hall of Fame, and he was honored in 1983 as Aimcal Man of the Year for his development of metallized polyester for liquid packaging. In 2001 the Purdue Department of Food Science posthumously recognized him with an Outstanding Food Science Award.

The Scholles have three sons, William J., Cliff R. and Robert W.; a daughter, Cynthia Scholle Hunt; and six grandchildren.

Writer: Susan A. Steeves, (765) 496-7481, ssteeves@purdue.edu

Sources: Phil Nelson, (765) 494-8256, pen@purdue.edu

Suzanne Nielsen, (765) 494-8256, nielsens@purdue.edu

Ag Communications: (765) 494-2722; Beth Forbes, bforbes@aes.purdue.edu; http://www.agriculture.purdue.edu/AgComm/public/agnews/

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Purdue University Development Office