University officials spoke excitedly about student opportunities and capturing an essence of southern hospitality at the groundbreaking ceremony for the Tony and Libba Rane Culinary Science Center on Friday.
“The Tony and Libba Rane Culinary Science Center is a real representation of Auburn’s commitment to high quality programs and it’s a commitment to the future for Auburn,” said University President Steven Leath. “It’s going to shape Auburn, it’s going to shape the industry and, probably most importantly, it’s going to shape the next generation of industry leaders in this hospitality industry.”
Leath said his grandparents emigrated from Italy, so he knows how important family, food and fellowship is to Italian culture.
The center was named after Tony and Libba Rane after James Rane, their son and member of the Auburn University Board of Trustees, and the Rane family made a $12 million contribution to the project. Their passion for food and fellowship is something the University wanted to stay in the project, Leath said.
“We didn’t want this to just be a facility," Leath said. "We wanted to have that culture, that ambiance, that feel that the Rane family would value so much. So it would be a legacy for their family and it would be a legacy for Auburn at the same time.”
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Raymond Harbert, member of the Auburn University Board of Trustees, said the center will create one of the world’s premier environments for the rapidly evolving hospitality industry through immersive hands-on learning and unique opportunities to work with world-class chefs and hospitality experts.
“Like Trustee Rane, I have a personal interest in the culinary and hospitality industry,” Harbert said, “so I’m particularly interested in what this facility has to offer. I’m confident that it will create new and exciting reasons for people to visit Auburn.”
James Rane said he hopes the center will provide a great global teaching experience and preserve his parents spirit of happy times, hospitality and humility.
June Henton, dean of the College of Human Sciences, said the culinary center will teach technical skills and underscore big-picture issues related to health, human wellbeing and quality of life. It will also tackle issues of food and nutrition security, sustainable practices and global food systems.
“With the Rane center conveying the essense of southern hospitality through the service culture, academic industry operating partnership and upscale architectural design, it will foster academic excellence, innovation, research scholarship, and opportunity for expanded outreach programming into the greater Auburn campus, community and beyond," Henton said.
According to Henton, the new culinary science center will be a gamechanger for Auburn students and the state of Alabama.
“So much of life’s problems can be solved by people sitting down together, sharing a meal and talking about their problems and creating an environment [where] solutions can be found," James Rane said.
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