Holman Ranch Owners, Auburn Friends Invest More Than $1 Million in Rane Center and Auburn Hospitality Program

Charlotte Tuggle | Communications Editor

As construction of the new Tony and Libba Rane Culinary Science Center continues, the College of Human Sciences at Auburn University has announced the dedicative naming of key parts of the center in recognition of generous gifts from the Tom Lowder family, alumni and friends.

The Tony and Libba Rane Culinary Science Center, coming spring 2022, will be a first-of-its-kind educational and commercial hub for students in Alabama’s only professionally accredited hospitality program to hone their hospitality, event management, brewing and culinary skills. Across all disciplines, the Rane Center will be equipped with innovative technology, active learning centers and real-world opportunities that will prepare Auburn graduates for the competitive career market.

Tom and Susan Lowder, owners of the historic Holman Ranch in California and president and vice president of the Thomas H. Lowder Family Foundation, will fund an active learning classroom in the new, state-of-the-art Culinary Science Center. The Holman Ranch Estate Vineyard and Winery Classrooms will bring lessons of excellence to an interactive space that will leave a lasting impact on hospitality students.

“Susan and I are excited to join the Rane family and other Auburn supporters with investing in the new Tony and Libba Rane Culinary Science Center,” Tom Lowder said. “This incredible facility will position the Auburn University College of Human Sciences as one of the top Hospitality Management programs featuring culinary science in the country, if not the world.”

The Lowder family will also support the Epicurean Tour of Northern California, which will continue to provide invaluable learning experiences and professional development opportunities that connect students with some of the most respected leaders in the Northern California wine and hospitality industry. For 15 years, this “classroom in the valley” experience has bridged the gap between industry leaders and hospitality students, offering them a transformational educational opportunity and a glimpse into their promising future.

Jake and Anna Kyser, proprietors of hotels, bars and restaurants in the Montgomery hospitality scene and longtime friends of Auburn University, also gave to support the strategic initiatives of the Rane Center. In recognition of their gift, Human Sciences has named an area on the grounds of the center the Jake and Anna Kyser Brewing Science Commons. Jake Kyser, Auburn alumnus, opened the first self-serve taproom in Alabama, named Tower Taproom, last year, and the commons will serve students and visitors interested in the art, science and business of brewing.

Because of the generosity of Meredith Birchfield and Joe Saloom, Human Sciences will recognize their gift with the naming of the Birchfield-Saloom Podcast Booth. Birchfield and Saloom have long supported hospitality students’ educational, outreach and travel opportunities. The podcast booth of the same name will allow students to take their experiential skills to a new level.

On the third floor, the Pappas Restaurants Interview Room will provide space for professional development opportunities. For years, Pappas Restaurants has given lectures to Hospitality Management students, provided internship opportunities and hired Auburn Hospitality graduates. The restaurant continues to support Auburn Hospitality through its generous gift.

And Keith and Beth Cox, both Auburn graduates and personal friends of Tony and Libba Rane, will receive a dedicated column in the Rane Center, named the Phillip Keith Cox ’97 and Elizabeth McCluskey Cox ‘96 Rane Culinary Science Center Column, complete with a commemorative sign – one of sixteen to be dedicated in the center.

“From active learning classrooms to pillars of support in the most literal sense, we appreciate and honor the generosity of our donors with these Tony and Libba Rane Culinary Science Center namings,” said College of Human Sciences Dean Susan Hubbard. “When students and visitors walk through the Rane Center, they will see the names of those providing this extraordinary opportunity and perhaps understand for themselves, how we all have the capability to move our craft forward and provide excellence for the next generation.”

To learn more about the Rane Center, visit ranecenter.auburn.edu and click here to see the list of naming opportunities.