History of the Department of Dairy Industry, University of California


The University of California first offered instruction in dairying in 1879. This offering consisted of a course of twelve lectures by Professor E. J. Wickson. Prof. Wickson came to the University in 1875 with a primary interest in dairying but later transferred his interest to horticulture and succeeded Prof. Hilgaard as Dean of Agriculture. After this series of lectures instruction in dairying apparently lapsed until 1899 when Prof. M. E. Jaffa gave a course in Chemistry of Dairy Products. Courses in dairying have been offered since that time.

Establishment of Davis Campus

Dairying in California developed to the point where it could be considered a major industry about 1890: the first creamery was erected in 1889 near Ferndale in Humbolt County; the centrifugal cream separator was introduced about that time and a rapid expansion in the amount of creamery-made butter was made possible; and nearly 300 creameries were constructed in the 1890's as well as several condensed-milk factories. Thus, dairying expanded rapidly during the decade 1890-1900.

Building and Facilities

The first Dairy Industry building was a creamery and instruction in buttermaking and cheesemaking was offered in 1908. The building was of frame construction and was located o what is now Peter J. Shields Ave. in the northeast corner of the present library block. It was equipped with offices, a large lecture room, a testing laboratory, and two large dairy manufacturing rooms. Refrigeration, a steam power plant and cold storage rooms ere also provided. In 1909 equipment was purchased to make possible instruction in market milk processing and ice cream manufacture.

Curriculum & Courses

The original emphasis in dairy education was practical instruction in manufacturing the major commercial products, butter and cheese, and in controlling their composition and quality. This instruction took the form of short courses for factory employees. Its success is shown by the fact that short courses and their successor -- conferences -- have been continuous since 1901, except where interrupted by major wars.

Dairy Industry Research

Research had been a major activity in the Department of Dairy Industry ever since science has taken precedence over practice. Earlier work of the department -- the interest of C. L. Roadhouse in milk flavors -- set the tone of research. Milk flavors and their attendant spin-offs -- chemistry of flavor constituents, mechanisms of enzyme action, identification of specific enzyme systems, and sensory evaluation -- have formed a principal area of research and one in which the Department has become noted.

Student Activities

The most important output of a university is its graduates. This is still true in spite of the recent preoccupation with research and the consequent de-emphasis of teaching by many departments. During the existence of the Dairy Industry Department there were approximately 300 Bachelor of Science graduates and probably 350 or more two-year graduates. These graduates have exerted, and will continue to exert for a long time, a significant influence on the economy of the state. They have been a principal factor in the high degree of development of the dairy industry in California.