West Texas A&M University officials have received a $2 million gift from a locally owned and operated meat processing company, as a means of expanding research collaboration and instruction within the agricultural sciences program.

University officials welcomed to campus the benefactors, the Caviness Beef Packers, during a ceremony Monday in the shadows of the under-construction Agriculture Science Complex.

“We would like to announce a very significant gift from a special family and a family owned company,” WTAMU President Walter Wendler said. “Caviness Beef Packers is presenting us with a check for $2 million to support the construction of the Meat Science Center that is located on the first floor of the Happy State Bank Academic and Research Building. I appreciate the generosity of the Caviness family and their way of doing business, because they are humble gentlemen who serve the community.”

Wendler said WTAMU has received approval from the Texas A&M System Board of Regents and Chancellor John Sharp to name the Meats Science Center the Caviness Meat Science and Innovation Center.

“This state-of-the-art facility will help educate agriculture leaders of the future with hands on operations like no other in the state of Texas,” he said. “The facility will provide WT students with an incomparable experience that will in turn provide the meat packing industry, the Texas Panhandle and beyond with a highly-qualified and motivated work force. Bringing the quality of teaching faculty like we have to our students would never be possible without the vision and generosity of the Caviness family. Their commitment helps us to add another level of excellence to our teaching environment to the Texas Panhandle.”

Wendler said agriculture is a rapidly developing, evolving industry and WTAMU students will be part of a new generation of experts that will shape the future of the industry to benefit the Panhandle, the state, nation and the world. Officials said Caviness Beef Packers is a beef processor with 850 employees, producing products nationally and internationally, noting the company was founded in 1962 and currently operates three processing facilities, two in the Texas Panhandle – Hereford and Amarillo, with another in Idaho.

“When we were first asked to look into a possible donation, it was a very easy yes for us,” Trevor Caviness, Caviness Beef Packers president, said. “It’s a win for the industry, for individuals in the industry, the University and the entire Panhandle region. And we’re excited to be a part of that. It’s important to give back to the community and we see education being the highest priority with very little risk. This complex gives these kids hands on training and will be one happening spot. We see a lot of opportunity for continued collaboration with the higher education institutions in our area and there are a lot of good things happening. A high tide raises all boats and the Panhandle tide is rising and we are proud to be a part of it.”

Officials said agricultural sciences programs are among the fastest growing majors at WTAMU and the new complex, which is slated to open in August, will benefit teaching and research in an expanded space designed to accommodate an ever-expanding faculty and student body.

“I want to make sure everybody understands what you’re doing here,” Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp said. “What you’re doing here in this complex, particularly with the addition of this Meat Sciences Center, is building something that does not exist not only in the state of Texas, but nowhere in the United States of America. I don’t care what your net worth is, when you take $2 million out of your pocket and give it to someone else, that is a big deal. West Texas A&M University was created to serve the state of Texas, but at the end of the day, our emphasis is the top 26 counties in the state of Texas, which are large animal, meat-production, intensive agriculture areas. And this site was designed for that purpose.”