Archer Daniels Midland donates $1M to MU College of Agriculture

Friday, October 26, 2012 | 6:09 p.m. CDT; updated 4:37 p.m. CDT, Saturday, October 27, 2012

COLUMBIA — MU's College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources received a $1 million gift on Friday.

Archer Daniels Midland Company donated the money to the college for the creation of the Archer Daniels Midland Center for Agricultural Development.

The center, which will include laboratories, will be housed in a renovated space at MU's Agricultural Engineering building. Renovations will begin this fall and the center is scheduled to open spring 2014.

Archer Daniels Midland, commonly known as ADM, converts corn, oilseeds, wheat and cocoa into food products, animal feed and products for energy and industrial uses. Its headquarters are in Decatur, Ill.

Tom Payne, vice chancellor and dean of the college, said the company's donation was inspired by the company's many employees who graduated from MU.

Michael D'Ambrose, the company's senior vice president of human resources, said their commitment to MU was a natural outgrowth for the business.

"That's why we believe this $1 million gift will provide great returns," D'Ambrose said.

The center will give students hands-on experience practicing skills like welding, carpentry and electrical wiring. The labs will simulate a workplace environment and will give students the opportunity to try their hand at techniques otherwise just taught through classroom instruction.

"It will loosen up the safety net a little bit," said Hunter Nash, a senior majoring in agricultural systems management and agricultural economics. 

Jinglu Tan, chair of MU's Biological Engineering department, said the skills students will learn with the expanded space and improved technology in the new laboratories will help them find jobs.

"We hear from employers all the time how important experiential learning is," Tan said.

The center will also provide space for student capstone design projects and other student clubs like Torq-N-Tigers. The club designs and builds a quarter-scale tractor and competes in a international design and tractor-pull contest.

Tan said he thinks the new center will give students and faculty more opportunities to collaborate on projects like Torq-N-Tigers.

Supervising editor is Emilie Stigliani.

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