Gift to create new culinary science center at Auburn University

Published: April 13, 2017
Updated: June 22, 2017
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A $12 million commitment from James W. "Jimmy" Rane and the Rane family will create a new culinary science center at Auburn University. At its April 7 meeting, the Auburn University Board of Trustees approved the naming of the facility as the Tony and Libba Rane Culinary Science Center in honor of Rane’s parents.

Plans for the new facility, to be located adjacent to The Hotel at Auburn University and Dixon Conference Center, include a restaurant, teaching and demonstration kitchens, a beverage appreciation center, a terrace and rooftop function space and a premier spa. The building also will house meeting and board rooms, hotel rooms, suites and luxury apartments.

"Not only will the center’s facilities provide our students with unparalleled opportunities for hands-on lessons and demonstrations in culinary arts and luxury accommodations from the best in the industry, but it also will provide guests with an immersion in hospitality that is second to none," said College of Human Sciences Dean June Henton.

Rane’s father, Anthony "Tony" J. Rane, was the son of Italian immigrants, a World War II veteran, an entrepreneur and a businessman. He enjoyed a diverse career, owning several restaurants, retail stores and hotel franchises. He was known for his love of travel, cooking and the hospitality that he and his wife, Libba Mills Rane, generously shared with others.

"We are grateful for the Rane family’s vision to establish a facility that will help train students for careers in the global hospitality and tourism industries," said Auburn President Jay Gogue. "This center will serve as a lasting tribute to Tony and Libba Rane."

Rane, who serves as a member and former president pro tempore of the Auburn University Board of Trustees, graduated from Auburn in 1968 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. He also earned a doctor of jurisprudence from Samford University in 1971. Rane owned a private law practice until 1986 and served as a district judge in Henry County, Alabama, from 1973-77. He founded Great Southern Wood Preserving, Inc. in 1970 and has since established the company as the nation’s leading manufacturer of pressure-treated pine. He currently serves as the company’s chairman, president and chief executive officer.

Speaking on behalf of his family, Rane said, "My family is proud to honor the legacy of Tony and Libba Rane through the construction of this new culinary science center. Though they were not graduates of Auburn themselves, they grew to love this university as much as their children and grandchildren do. As a matter of fact, I was the first in my family line to complete a bachelor’s degree and I did so at Auburn University. My brother came along soon after and many other Rane family members have also pursued their degrees on this campus. It has become a place that feels like home and we are so proud that our Auburn home will now house this fine facility named in memory of my parents."