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University of Kansas renames Institute for Sustainable Engineering after The Wonderful Company

February 13, 2024

The University of Kansas’ Institute for Sustainable Engineering has a new name — Wonderful Institute for Sustainable Engineering-KU (WISE-KU). The naming builds on the university’s deep relationship with The Wonderful Company, a global agricultural company co-founded and led by Stewart and Lynda Resnick.

The Wonderful Company is one of the largest privately held companies in the U.S. whose iconic brands include Wonderful Pistachios, POM Wonderful, FIJI Water, JUSTIN Wines and others. Along with the rebranding comes a $5 million commitment to promote sustainable engineering initiatives.

“Complex problems require new and novel approaches in order to arrive at workable solutions,” said KU Chancellor Douglas A. Girod. “The Resnicks are prime examples of how creative use of philanthropy can drive university research and discoveries. We’re grateful they’ve chosen to work with our talented faculty and students to solve some of today’s thorniest issues. Their investment, combined with the opportunity to work on real-world challenges, will benefit generations to come.”

The Resnicks have a long history of supporting leading research universities in driving research solutions to solve the world’s most critical environmental challenges across energy, water, food and the climate. To date, the Resnicks, along with their foundations and The Wonderful Company, have invested nearly $2.6 billion in philanthropy and corporate social responsibility investments globally — in education, wellness, housing and the arts — with more than $850 million pledged to universities for research and technologies around sustainability.

“Environmental sustainability must be one of the priorities for our planet and is a primary focus of our company’s operations. Succeeding in our efforts to care for our world requires research and innovation – everything from renewable energy and responsible water usage to rethinking pistachio waste,” said Eric Johnson, senior vice president of Capital Projects at The Wonderful Company and KU alumnus. “The Institute of Sustainable Engineering at KU has taken a novel approach towards exploring new technologies and creating cutting-edge outputs that align with Wonderful’s mission to make our world a safer, healthier and better home for generations to come.”

In the last five years, The Wonderful Company, which is one of the world’s largest nut processors, has worked in collaboration with WISE-KU researchers to find ways to repurpose 50 million pounds of pistachio shells, which until now went to carbon-neutral fuel outlets or accumulated in piles on fallowed farmland. Researchers have found multiple ways to use them, including as an ingredient in animal feed.

“This substantial commitment by The Wonderful Company and Stewart and Lynda Resnick brings together researchers and students from multiple disciplines with industry partners to advance global sustainability through transformational engineering, science and entrepreneurship,” said Foundation Distinguished Professor Mark Shiflett, founder and director of the institute. “We are honored to name our institute after our partners at Wonderful for their major investment in our engineering students and university, as well as our ongoing collaboration to create solutions to today’s real-world issues promoting the societal, economic and environmental benefits of sustainable engineering.”

Ana Rita Morais, assistant professor of chemical & petroleum engineering and deputy director of the institute, said, “This convergent, inclusive approach fosters and supports innovation resulting in developing, inventing and patenting novel processes and products that sustainably utilize food, water and energy by recycling valuable resources while reducing our impact on the environment and protecting our planet.”

KU Endowment is the independent, nonprofit organization serving as the official fundraising and fund-management organization for KU. Founded in 1891, KU Endowment was the first foundation of its kind at a U.S. public university.

Posted on
February 13, 2024
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Michelle Keller
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