$2.5 million named gift to honor poultry industry pioneer

The Miller Poultry Center will be built in two phases. The first phase will include buildings A-C, pictured  in white in this proposed site plan. Buildings D and E, in orange, will be constructed in phase two.

The Miller Poultry Center will be built in two phases. The first phase will include buildings A-C, pictured in white in this proposed site plan. Buildings D and the two Es, in orange, will be constructed in phase two.

AUBURN, Ala.—A new, state-of-the-art poultry science research and education complex to be constructed on the north campus of Auburn University over the next two years will be named in honor of a forward-thinking poultry industry pioneer, thanks to an Atlanta, Georgia, couple’s $2.5 million commitment to the university.

Charles C. “Buddy” Miller III and wife Pinney Allen made the gift to honor Miller’s parents, Charles C. Miller Jr. and Virginia Doke Miller, by naming the new center the Charles C. Miller Jr. Poultry Research and Education Center.

Auburn’s Board of Trustees approved the name during its Feb. 5 meeting at the Hotel at Auburn University and Dixon Conference Center.

Miller Jr., a 1940 College of Agriculture graduate with a degree in agricultural business and economics, was a successful Alabama poultry entrepreneur in Piedmont whose 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. He passed away in 2002.

“Over 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 U.S. and the world,” said Don Conner, professor and head of the Department of Poultry Science at Auburn.

“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 said. “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 in honor and in memory of the late Mr. and Mrs. 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 on land that now borders the Auburn Research Park. The new facilities will be situated in north Auburn beside the $7.1 million Alabama Poultry and Egg Association Feed Mill and Animal Nutrition Center that opened in 2012.

Construction of the Miller Poultry Center will be in two phases, with a projected total cost of $4 million.

Phase one will consist of two poultry 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.

Miller and Allen’s philanthropic commitment will cover the cost of the project’s second phase, which Auburn trustees sanctioned in November. Included in that phase will be two additional multipurpose houses, both with 13,440 square feet, and an 8,000-square-foot administration and classroom building. Phase two still must be approved administratively, but Conner said construction is expected to begin in early 2017.

Auburn’s Department of Poultry Science already is recognized nationally and internationally for excellence in research, teaching and outreach, but the Miller Poultry Center will take the program to the next level, said Arthur Appel, interim dean for the College of Agriculture.

“These facilities will significantly advance Auburn’s standing as a global leader in the field of poultry science and will allow the Department of Poultry Science to realize its vision of becoming the premier poultry research and education program in the country, if not the world,” Appel said.

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 here.

For more information on the Miller Poultry Center, or to follow construction progress, visit this site.

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