$5 million Tyson Gift Lifts New Agriculture Research Center

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The Tyson family and Tyson Foods Inc. of Springdale have made a substantial gift toward creating a first-of-its-kind agricultural research center in Arkansas — one of the most consequential gifts to advance water quality and sustainability research in the state’s history.  

A $5 million gift from Tyson to the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture was announced at a news conference Monday morning. The donation, according to a news release, will significantly finance the new $16.3 million Don Tyson Center for Agricultural Sciences, with construction scheduled to begin later this year on the Division’s property in northern Fayetteville off of Highway 112 South (Garland Avenue).

It is the largest individual gift Tyson Foods has ever given to a University of Arkansas System division or campus.

The 60,000-SF building will feature high-tech agriculture research laboratories that will advance plant and animal sustainability, along with water quality research.

“This gift and this facility will advance Arkansas agriculture into the distant future and help our state compete in the very competitive global world of agriculture research for many generations to come,” said Mark Cochran, the Division’s vice president for agriculture. “To have an iconic name like Don Tyson attached to it demonstrates what a significant facility this will become. It’s an outstanding legacy of an amazing family and company, and this is by far one of the most historic days in the state’s history of agriculture research.”

The new multistory facility will be the epicenter for agricultural research in Arkansas. Division scientists will operate numerous state-of-the-art agricultural laboratories that conduct and facilitate multi-disciplinary research, including a wide range of current and future agricultural issues facing Arkansans.

Cochran said the facility will better help researchers create better, healthier, and more efficient ways for growing crops, raising farm animals, producing food, and protecting the state’s natural resources, Cochran said.

The complex will also be the new administrative home for the Division’s Agricultural Experiment Station, which has been based in Fayetteville for more than 125 years.

WER Architects of Little Rock and Nabholz Construction Corp. of Conway will partner with the Division to build the facility.

Along with its significant research capabilities, the building will also be a community-friendly venue, with the opportunity for citizens to utilize a 300-seat multipurpose room/exhibit hall — as well as the ability to be a part of public programs offered through the new facility. The building will also be unique in design, Cochran said, with its greenhouses potentially being on the top of the building rather than as stand-alone buildings.

“We are in the beginning stages with the architects, but we certainly want it to fit with the uniqueness of Fayetteville, and it will become an aesthetically pleasing facility,” Cochran said. “It certainly won’t be just a big box building.”

 The Division expects to break ground later this year with a completion date to be determined.