The Tony and Libba Rane Culinary Science Center at Auburn University has reached a milestone, with the last construction beam on the 142,000-square-foot complex being raised.
At the topping off ceremony on Friday, Allen Harris, CEO of Bailey -Harris Construction, called the Rane Center “the most unique and most admired culinary center on planet Earth.”
Gov. Kay Ivey said the Rane Center, scheduled to open in the fall of 2022, would “definitely put us on the map worldwide.”
“The bottom line is this center will train future generations in the hospitality industry in first-class style,” the governor said. “It will be a credit to future generations and give lots of young folks opportunities that they never would have had.”
The Rane Center will house Auburn’s hospitality management program in the College of Human Sciences. It will provide students with hands-on learning experiences in a luxury boutique hotel (The Laurel) and a teaching restaurant (1856) and will include classrooms as well as demonstration and food production labs.
The Rane family provided the lead gift for the project. Jimmy Rane is president and CEO of Great Southern Wood Preserving and a member of the university’s board of trustees. The building is named after his parents.
“I am the first member of my family to get a college degree,” Rane said. “What I am able to do today is because of Auburn. I just want to thank Auburn.”
Martin O’Neill, head of the Department of Nutrition, Dietetics and Hospitality Management, said that in addition to teaching students and serving the community, the Rane Center will be key to workforce development.
“We want this to be a very interactive site and facility for the community, but we also see it as an engine for workforce development for the state,” he said. “Tourism remains a multibillion-dollar industry for the state. I know we’ve all experienced a hiccup over the course of the last year, but we’re hoping we’re going to be at the forefront of that engine moving forward, supplying and meeting the needs of the industry.”