Jim Richards was born and raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He studied at the University of Manitoba, from which he received a BSc in Agriculture (1958) and an MSc (1959) specializing in animal and poultry science. From 1960-1963 he studied at the University of Minnesota, completing a PhD with a major in poultry and food sciences and a minor in agricultural economics.
In 1964 Dr Richards joined the Department of Poultry Science where he taught and conducted research in several aspects of poultry and food science. He was instrumental in the establishment of the Department of Food Science in 1968 and was one of its founding members. In 1975 Dr Richards was appointed Assistant Dean and later Associate Dean (Academic) of the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences prior to his appointment as Dean in 1985. Following two terms as Dean in 1997, Dr Richards returned to the Department of Food Science. On retirement he was named Dean Emeritus.
Dr Richards’ research interests focused on various aspects of the processing and preservation of animal products for food use. This included the post-mortem physical and physiological phenomena that occur in skeletal muscle systems and how they influence the utilization and quality of these systems prior to reaching the supermarket. He was actively involved in research on the use of ionizing radiation to preserve food and on the determinants of eggshell strength. His teaching interests included these areas as well as food quality management and food colorimetry.
Several Faculty initiatives were developed during Dr Richards’s Deanship, when he guided the Faculty through a dynamic era of change and growth. Undergraduate enrolment almost doubled during that time. His accomplishments included a major revision to the Agricultural Sciences curriculum, allowing a new core curriculum for the BSc (Agr) and new and revised study options to be implemented. Fostered by Dean Richards, the International Program grew dramatically to include links with institutions in Kenya, Poland, Japan, Mexico, Chile, China, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines and many other countries. Highlights included the Faculty’s membership in the Southeast Asian University Consortium for Graduate Education on Agriculture and Natural Resources, and the extensive student exchanges facilitated through the Education Abroad Program. During his leadership, the School of Family and Nutritional Sciences and the Botanical Gardens joined the Faculty, activities at the Oyster River Research Farm expanded and diversified, a strong Faculty distance education program developed, the Agriculture Alumni Division was formed, and physical facilities for teaching and research were improved.
Throughout his distinguished academic career Dr Richards was widely involved in service to the University, his profession and the community. He chaired numerous planning, advisory and ad hoc committees for the University, dealing with a wide variety of issues such as Animal Care, Open House, Biotechnology, United Way Campaign and Athletics. He represented the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences on the University Senate for 22 years. He represented UBC on and chaired the Advisory Council for the Western College of Veterinary Medicine, served on the Board of Trustees of the National Institute of Nutrition and on the executive of the South East Asian Consortium for Graduate Education in Agriculture and Natural Resources based in the Philippines. He is a past president of the Canadian Institute of Food Science and Technology and of the Canadian Confederation of Faculties of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine in Canada.
Dr Richards received several honours and awards, including a Fellowship of the Canadian Institute of Food Science and Technology from which he also received the Institute Award for Distinguished Service. He is also the recipient of the UBC Alumni Association Faculty Citation Award.
In retirement Dr Richards remains connected to the Faculty, in particular the Food Science Group, through special assignments, continuing participation in the Food Information Service Steering Committee and representing the Group on the BC Food Technology Network. Other activities include committees in the Department of Athletics and Recreation, notably the University Athletic Council and the Athletic Awards Committee, and membership on the steering committee organizing the UBC Faculty and Staff Annual Golf Tournament. An avid sportsman, he golfs and plays old-timers hockey frequently and is involved in the organization and management of groups in both those sports.
“It has been a distinct honor and a great education to have been Dean of the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences for the past twelve years,” Dean Richards said on his retirement as Dean. “This Faculty, although small in comparison to some others, has a great diversity of programs and interests, and is incredibly dynamic. In a period of shrinking budgets, the greatest stimulation and satisfaction has come from the opportunity to work with such dedicated and innovative faculty, students and staff to discover and apply new and creative ways of achieving the educational goals to which we are all committed. I look forward to continuing, in another capacity, to be part of that discovery and implementation process.”
Dr and Mrs Roberta Richards reside in Vancouver.
R Blair and C R Nichols 2005