Writer Tara Massouleh McCay connects the growing food scene in the city of Auburn to the creation of the one-of-a-kind culinary center, slated to open in fall 2022, and deems Auburn a “culinary powerhouse.”
The Rane Center is currently under construction at the corner of Thach Avenue and South College Street, where campus and community meet.
The 142,000-square-foot building will house Auburn’s hospitality management program in the College of Human Sciences, providing students interested in hospitality and culinary science careers with hands-on learning experiences in a luxury boutique hotel (The Laurel) and a teaching restaurant (1856), as well as a range of classrooms and cutting-edge demonstration and food production laboratories. It is a first-of-its-kind building at Auburn in that it blends a major academic component with revenue generating elements.
It is the only culinary facility in the world to have these features.
Auburn University is home to Alabama’s only professionally accredited hospitality program. The new center will be a draw for students currently in top culinary programs in high schools in Alabama and across the nation. It will also become a destination for alumni and new guests alike who enjoy food and beverage tourism.
The dream and vision for a culinary science center at Auburn started more than a decade ago when then-Dean June Henton tasked Martin O’Neill, head of the college’s Department of Nutrition, Dietetics and Hospitality Management, and Hans van der Reijden, managing director of The Hotel at Auburn University and Dixon Conference Center, to visit globally recognized programs and facilities to benchmark the center’s development.
In 2017, James W. “Jimmy” Rane became the lead donor, committing $12 million on behalf of his family. The Board of Trustees later approved naming the facility in honor of Rane’s parents, Tony and Libba Rane.
Jimmy Rane is a 1968 Auburn alumnus, longtime Auburn trustee and chairman, president and chief executive officer of Great Southern Wood Preserving.
The Tony and Libba Rane Culinary Science Center was included in a feature article in the August 2021 issue of Southern Living magazine. The one-of-a-kind facility will house Auburn University’s hospitality management program and provide students interested in hospitality and culinary science careers with hands-on learning experiences in a luxury boutique hotel and a teaching restaurant (1856), as well as a range of classrooms and cutting-edge demonstration and food production laboratories.
Martin O’Neill, head of the Department of Nutrition, Dietetics and Hospitality Management in the College of Human Sciences; Susan Hubbard, dean of the College of Human Sciences; and Hans van der Reijden, CEO of Ithaka Hospitality Partners, which manages The Hotel at Auburn University, are happy to be a part of the creation of the Tony and Libba Rane Culinary Science Center at Auburn University.