Simon Somogyi, Ph.D., has been selected as the new Dr. Kerry Litzenberg Sales and Economics Endowed Chair in the Department of Agricultural Economics in Texas A&M’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
Somogyi currently holds the Arrell Chair in the Business of Food and is a professor in the Gordon S. Lang School of Business and Economics at the University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada. He also holds the role of director of the Longo’s Food Retail Laboratory.
Additionally, he is an adjunct professor in the School of Resource and Environmental Studies at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia and holds the position of Honorary Senior Fellow in Agribusiness in the School of Agriculture and Food Sciences, University of Queensland, Australia.
“We feel Dr. Somogyi’s professional and academic experience, as well as his dedication to the concept of providing students with both theoretical and hands-on transformative learning they can apply in businesses, make him an excellent choice as Litzenberg Chair,” said Rudy Nayga, Ph.D., head of the Department of Agricultural Economics.
Kerry Litzenberg, Ph.D., who died in 2022, was formerly a Regents Professor and Minnie Stevens Piper Professor in the department. The position, established in his honor, is for five years and has the possibility of renewal thereafter. Somogyi’s tenure will begin in August.
“Dr. Litzenberg was a master teacher and an example of teaching excellence,” Nayga said. “He was greatly respected by his students and was always ranked among the top professors. He was also the ‘founder and father’ of what has become the Weston Agrifood Sales Program.”
Litzenberg Chair responsibilities
The chairholder participates directly in teaching and mentoring and leads curriculum and policy development for the Weston AgriFood Sales Program.
The Weston program partners with industry leaders to develop ethical sales professionals, deliver high-impact experiential learning opportunities and advanced training focused primarily on business-to-business sales and also expanding to business-to-consumer sales.
“The Weston program offers the only sales minor at Texas A&M and is positioned to become an international leader in sales education for students, corporate partners, and industry professionals in agriculture and other fields,” Nayga said.
“The goal is to ensure the sales curriculum is current, informed by scholarship and makes a positive contribution to the sales profession and industry stakeholders.”
Chairholder expectations include the ability to demonstrate a path for developing an impactful research program on the theories, methods and practices broadly related to sales. This research may emerge from diverse fields, including agricultural economics, business, managerial economics, behavioral sciences or other related disciplines.
Nayga said Somogyi will be a good addition to a department with a large and broad faculty base and opportunities to collaborate in areas as varied as agribusiness, marketing, finance, quantitative methods, behavioral economics, environmental economics, entrepreneurship and personal finance.
Bringing sales expertise to better prepare students
Somogyi said he is “incredibly honored and excited to have been selected as the new Litzenberg Chair,” adding that it’s “a tremendous opportunity” and he is anxious to get started in this new endeavor.
“One of my primary goals as the Litzenberg Chair will be to expand course offerings in the Weston program, including graduate and executive training,” he said. “I believe this will better equip our students for the rapidly evolving industry landscape.”
Somogyi said providing international opportunities for students is another important objective for the program.
“By exposing our students to different cultures and approaches to food sales and distribution management, we can help them become more well-rounded professionals,” he said.
Somogyi said he is also committed to furthering the role of industry in the program.
“By forging partnerships with leading companies, we can ensure that our curriculum stays up to date and that our students are prepared to hit the ground running after graduation,” he said.
More about Somogyi
Somogyi earned his doctorate in agribusiness marketing from the University of Adelaide, where he examined the impact of communication on business-to-business relationships and sales in the Australian wine industry.
His current research is focussed on agrifood e-commerce sales, including direct-to-consumer sales and business-to-business sales through smart and virtual forms of digital retailing. He has taught a variety of undergraduate courses in the field of agribusiness sales and distribution management including agribusiness sales, agribusiness value chain management, wine retail and distribution management and agribusiness case study development.
He has authored for or contributed to some of Canada’s top agribusiness industry publications along with creating the Arrell Food Business and Technology Forum. He is currently a board member on companies involved in food sales and distribution management, plus has consulted with the Canadian and Australian governments and Global Fortune 500 companies on agribusiness management issues and has testified before the Senate of Canada.
“I believe my experience with strategic planning and academic administration, which has included supervising faculty and professional staff, managing budgets and working with alumni and donors, will benefit Texas A&M’s Department of Agricultural Economics,” he said.
Somogyi said he works equally well in both individual and team settings and enjoys being in both leadership and mentoring roles.
“While I did not have the opportunity to meet Dr. Litzenberg, I have learned that he was a man of great passion who was devoted to his students and wanted to make a positive impact on their lives,” Somogyi said. “I hope to bring those qualities and that sense of purpose to this position that was created to honor his legacy.”