School of Food Science

Salvadalena Wins WSU AP Contribution Award

Russ award

Dr. Rasco presents Russ with the AP Contribution Award

WSU Creamery Manager Russ Salvadalena was chosen by the Administrative Professional Advisory Council (APAC) as a WSU 2015 AP Contribution Award recipient. He was presented his award at the APAC meeting on Thursday, May 14th.

Barbara Rasco, Interim Director of the School of Food Science, nominated Russ for the award. “The WSU Creamery is an icon for the University, and Creamery Manager Russ Salvadalena is the stimulus behind the strong brand recognition, she said.
“He is always doing his best work to promote Washington State University and the School of Food Science.”

Russ is one of the most cheerful and upbeat people I have worked with in the past 30 years in academia and in the food industry,” continues Dr. Rasco. “He is totally professional and selfless in his dedication to the goals of the Creamery and to support the land grant mission.”

The reasons that Russ was chosen for the award are many. Here are some of the highlights of his work as Creamery Manager.

russ accepting award

Russ thanked his fellow employees for their hard work and said he’d not have earned the award without their contributions.

His productivity is outstanding; the creamery is well-managed and fiscally sound with relatively competitive pricing despite the low efficiency (student) workforce. Employing students is a critical part of the mission of the creamery. Although students have demanding class schedules, Russ and his staff use creative problem solving to employ students—prominently from the School of Food Science. His tireless initiative to make this a valuable work experience for students utilizes his creativity and passion for education. This results in launching creamery employees who graduate with a degree from WSU into very successful careers. Students who leave here with creamery experience under their belt are valued and job ready: day one.

Under Russ’ direction, the creamery continues its mission of supporting School of Food Science research and education by funding a faculty position, an instructional technician, office staff (communications, business center, and extension support), 2-3 graduate student stipends, and 8 undergraduate scholarships in addition to hiring dozens of student employees. Russ personally checks in on these creamery supported people to see that their work is positively impacting the School and University. He also shares his expertise and provides input into dairy science classes and student activities such as the dairy products judging team. Russ constantly provides creative ideas and support to recruit new students to WSU and often takes time personally to give tours and help plan recruiting opportunities for various prospective student groups.

While the creamery is world famous for its cheese that they’ve been consistently making for almost 70 years, Russ continues to come up with creative and innovative ways to solve problems that arise in food manufacturing. He helps develop new ice cream and cheese flavors. For many years, the Creamery disposed of their whey (a by-product of cheese) by simply dumping it down the drain. As environmental concerns became more prevalent, Russ brainstormed new ideas to make the process more earth friendly while also building educational opportunities within the facility. Russ and his team proposed and is now implementing a creamery expansion that includes a whey processing facility in Spring 2015.

Russ focuses his work constantly on the mission of the Creamery which includes treating his student employees, staff and clientele with respect and offering exceptional customer service. This advances the trademark retail location and product of Cougar Gold Cheese and WSU. He continually strives to be considered an educational and business leader in the university community as well as the dairy industry. Russ is an excellent manager of the creamery facilities which includes production, retail sales, and direct marketing.

Russ has a positive attitude that contributes to a workplace culture that translates to employee satisfaction. The full-time permanent positions at the WSU Creamery have experienced very little turnover in the past decade. He maintains good relationships with other units across campus and with the public. He is widely interviewed about creamery activities and is a well- known and liked “face” of the University. He extends education beyond the boundaries of the University by organizing Cheese Making Short Courses and Pasteurization Workshops for the public. He assists with the annual FFA dairy products judging competition and is active in professional societies.

Russ and Janie 2

Russ with his wife, Janie Salvadalena

Russ Salvadalena is a WSU alumnus who has been giving his best back to the University through his industrious work at the WSU Creamery for the last 13 years. The WSU Creamery has over 80 employees (70+ of them student employees) who produce almost 250,000 cans of cheese each year, but the value that Russ Salvadalena brings to this WSU icon is priceless.

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