Hunziker, Otto F. (1873-1959) | Purdue University Libraries, Archives and Special Collections
Otto Frederick Hunziker was born in Zrich, Switzerland, on 25 December 1873 to Karl Otto and Luise (Pupikofer) Hunziker. Otto graduated from a Swiss agricultural college at age 19. In 1893, Otto Frederick Hunziker emigrated to the United States.
During this time period, significant new developments in dairy processing technology were occurring on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. In 1890, Stephen Babcock published specifications for the Babcock test for milk fat content. In 1892, Dr. Niklaus Gerber acquired a Swiss patent on the Gerber method for analyzing fat content in milk. Dr. Gerber was based in Zrich, had studied at the University of Zurich, and worked for two years at the Swiss-American Milk Company in Little Falls, New York. Otto Hunziker would spend a substantial amount of time studying and improving these analytic methods.
In the United States, O. F. Hunziker initially worked on a dairy farm near Attleboro, Massachusetts. To improve his English and commercial skills, he studied at Bryant and Stratton Business College, Providence, Rhode Island in 1896. He returned to Switzerland briefly in 1898 before returning to receive a B.S. Agriculture in 1900 and M.S.A. in 1901 from Cornell University. He served as an assistant in charge of dairy bacteriology at Cornell University until 1902, when he equipped and operated a dairy manufacturing research laboratory for the Scranton Condensed Milk Company in Ellicottville, New York. Otto Frederick married Florence Belle Burne on 10 April 1905 in Portville, Cattaraugus County, New York.
In 1905 Hunziker accepted a position at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana as head of Purdue's Dairy Department. Dairy departments were relatively new at American colleges. (The first dairy school in the U.S. was created at the University of Wisconsin in 1890.) Professor Hunziker led Purdue's dairy department through significant growth.
In the summer of 1906, O. F. Hunziker was among 18 teachers and investigators meeting at the University of Illinois, Urbana, to found what was then known as National Association of Dairy Instructors and Investigators. (The following year, this association changed its name to 'Official Dairy Instructors' Association' and, in 1916, changed its name to 'American Dairy Science Association' (ADSA).) From 1910 to 1926, Otto Hunziker chaired ADSA's Committee on Official Methods of Testing Milk and Cream for Butterfat. In 1911, this committee met in Washington DC with the U.S. Bureau of Dairying, the U.S. Bureau of Standards and manufacturers of glassware. Standard specifications for Babcock glassware were published as a result of this meeting. Professor Hunziker actively pursued numerous improvements to the testing methodology, which improved the quality and safety of dairy products. Otto Hunziker was the third president of ADSA from 1910 through 1911. During Professor Hunziker's presidency, ADSA also: created a national score card for scoring dairies; standardized dairy judging contests; secured scholarships for student contests; improved national milk standards; developed ties with breed associations; and, provided fora for industry discussions on dairy instruction and extension services.
Apart from application of improved pedagogy and scientific methodology, Professor O. F. Hunziker oversaw planning and construction of Smith Hall, the building which thereafter housed Purdue's dairy manufacturing group, extension service, and creamery. While at Purdue, he published over 50 bulletins, leaflets, and scientific treatises addressing dairy farm and plant problems. In 1917, O. F. Hunziker left Purdue to manage manufacturing and research at the Blue Valley Creamery Company in Chicago, Illinois.
Otto Frederick Hunziker died on 16 November 1959 in La Grange, Illinois. A portrait of Dr. Hunziker and plaque hang in Purdue's Smith Hall. In 1964, 283 leaders in the dairy industry were asked to name contributors most significantly shaping the dairy industry. O. F. Hunziker was listed third, ahead of such well-known industry luminaries as Gail Borden. He was also inducted into the National Dairy Shrine as a "pioneer".