Program History

Designed for working professionals and accepting its first students in 2002, the Online Master of Science (MS) in Food Safety Program at Michigan State University was created in response to a market research study conducted in the year 2000.  This study revealed an overwhelming need on the part of food industry, government and public health for their employees to be specifically educated in the many aspects of safeguarding our food supply.  The study also revealed concern by employers over losing their best employees to a traditional on-campus program.  Therefore, the Online MS in Food Safety program was designed to meet both the needs of the individual, as well as the employer, by offering this comprehensive program in a fully online format.

Learn more about the origins of the Online MS in Food Safety:



Program Founder

Edward C. Mather DVM, Ph.D. 

Dr. Edward Mather

The Online Master of Science in Food Safety program was founded by Dr. Edward C. Mather, DVM, Ph.D., offering online classes to students for the first time in Fall of 2002.  Dr. Mather took an active role in the program until his passing in 2010. 

Edward C. Mather spent his early childhood on a farm near West Branch, Iowa. He received a degree in Veterinary Medicine from Iowa State University in 1960 and expanded a veterinary practice in Fennimore, Wisconsin until 1968. At that time he joined the faculty at the University of Missouri at Columbia, obtaining a Ph.D. in Reproductive Physiology. He remained on the faculty as an Assistant Professor and became board certified in the American College of Theriogenology. In 1974 he was appointed Director of the Division of Theriogenology at the University of Minnesota where he was promoted to Professor. Dr. Mather came to the College of Veterinary Medicine at MSU in 1978 as chair of the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences. After serving for 14 years he then joined the CVM Dean's office as Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies as well as Coordinator of International Programs for the College.

In 1998 he was appointed Deputy Director of the National Food Safety and Toxicology Center at MSU and became Interim Director in 1999. During that time he established the Professional Master of Science Degree Program in Food Safety, an online program which attracts both domestic and international students. He retired from MSU in 2008 as Professor Emeritus.


Former Director

Julie Funk, MS, DVM, PhD

Julie Funk

Joining the Online Master of Science program in 2006, Julie Funk, MS, DVM, PhD, lead and expanded the program until 2014, when she was promoted by the College of Veterinary Medicine to the position of Associate Dean for Professional Academic Programs and Student Affairs.

As director, she increased the annual student acceptance by more than 400 percent and improved the student experience through curricular development and increased advising resources. Under her leadership, the MS program was recognized as the leading food safety degree program in the country by food industry leaders, prospective and current students, alumni, and in a third-party market research report.

Funk earned her DVM degree from the MSU College of Veterinary Medicine, and completed a residency in Population Medicine and a Master’s Degree in Veterinary Clinical Sciences from the University of Illinois, Urbana- Champaign College of Veterinary Medicine. She earned a PhD in Comparative Biomedical Sciences from the North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine.

In her new role, she provides leadership to all academic and clinical veterinary programs, which include faculty, admissions and student affairs, curriculum and program coordination, and resource development and allocation.


"The greatest advantages to the professional masters program are being able to take one course per semester, allowing sufficient time for career, school and family, and the availability of adjusting my study schedule each week to fit career and family events."

– Ted Gatesy
  • 2012 Graduate