$2.5 million gift benefits new poultry center, honors industry pioneer

Published: February 05, 2016
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A $2.5 million gift from Charles C. "Buddy" Miller III and wife Pinney Allen will memorialize an Auburn University alumnus and poultry industry innovator while furthering plans for a modern, multiphase research and education center for Auburn's College of Agriculture.

The couple made the gift to honor Miller's parents, Virginia Doke Miller and Charles C. Miller Jr. — a forward-thinking poultry industry pioneer. On Feb. 5, the Auburn University Board of Trustees approved naming the new center the Charles C. Miller Jr. Poultry Research & Education Center.

"During his 50-year career, Charles Miller developed the methodologies that transformed the poultry industry from a small individual-farmer operation to what it is today — a more than $50 billion industry that feeds both the United States and the world," said Donald Conner, head of Auburn's Department of Poultry Science — one of only six such departments in the United States.

The elder Miller, who passed away in 2002, earned a degree in agricultural business and economics from the College of Agriculture in 1940. A successful poultry entrepreneur in Piedmont, Alabama, his innovations in contract growing, feed milling, breeding and hatchery operations led to major gains in broiler production and efficiency, and laid the foundation for today's modern poultry industry.

"Mr. Miller's venerable career and nontraditional approach to the poultry industry parallel what we instill in Auburn poultry science students: to be bold, far-sighted thinkers who are not afraid to challenge conventional approaches in pursuit of solutions," Conner continued. "His foresight shaped the poultry industry and helped the industry grow to become the top agribusiness in Alabama."

Miller's son and daughter-in-law, both Harvard graduates now retired from successful careers, said their entire family is grateful to Auburn for the opportunity to name what will be a world-class poultry research complex that honors the memory of the late Mr. Miller.

"My father would be proud of how far the poultry industry has advanced since its humble beginnings," Buddy Miller said. "And, he would be excited that Auburn will continue to play a leading role in the industry's future."

The Miller Poultry Center will replace the College of Agriculture's existing Poultry Research Farm Unit, which was built more than 40 years ago off South College Street. The new center will be constructed in north Auburn off Auburn Lakes Road adjacent to the Alabama Poultry and Egg Association Feed Mill and Animal Nutrition Building that opened in 2012.

The new center will strengthen significantly the university's current standing as a global leader in poultry research, instruction and outreach, and will sustain the Department of Poultry Science's vision of becoming the premiere poultry education and research program in the world.

"Facilities like the Miller Poultry Center are vital to Auburn's global reputation as an academic, research and outreach leader," said Jane DiFolco Parker, Auburn's vice president for development and president of the Auburn University Foundation. "The philanthropic investment that makes their construction possible, combined with the opportunity to associate the work occurring in them with someone of Mr. Miller's stature, further bolsters Auburn's efforts to shape our world."

Construction of the Miller Poultry Center will be in two phases. The first phase will consist of two chicken houses — one with 9,600 square feet and the other at 13,440 — and a 16,500-square-foot facility to house Auburn's National Poultry Technology Center. Construction is expected to begin May 1, with the facilities expected to be fully functional by fall 2016. The second phase will include two additional chicken houses — both with 13,440 square feet — and an 8,000-square-foot administration and classroom building.

This gift supports the College of Agriculture's efforts to raise $51.4 million through Because This is Auburn – A Campaign for Auburn University, a comprehensive $1 billion fundraising effort in support of Auburn's students, faculty, programs and facilities. In addition to raising $10 million for facilities such as this, the college's top campaign priorities include increasing the availability of scholarships for Agriculture students by 50 percent and endowing at least 13 new professorships. Learn more about the College of Agriculture's campaign priorities and overarching campaign efforts at because.auburn.edu/ag.

For more information on the Miller Poultry Center or to follow construction progress, visit http://poul.auburn.edu/charles-miller-jr-poultry-center/.