Beverly Hills billionaires give UC Davis $50 million to build agricultural research center

UC Davis is set to build a center focused on agricultural innovation and research after Beverly Hills billionaires Lynda and Stewart Resnick gave the university $50 million, the largest donation ever. received from individual donors, the school announced Monday.

The $40 million center will work to make crops more resilient and sustainable in the face of climate change, maximize water and energy efficiency, and expand access to nutritious foods, UC Davis said. in a press release. The 40,000 square foot center will be known as the Lynda and Stewart Resnick Center for Agricultural Innovation and will house classrooms, labs, a student career center and a counseling support center, according to UC Davis.

The pledge comes from one of California’s largest and most powerful farming partners, the Resnicks of Wonderful Co. The family ran one of the nation’s largest farming empires, selling popular supermarket items like Halos mandarins, Pom Wonderful pomegranate juice and Fiji water. .

“Protecting and preserving our planet for the future means we must take bold action and push the boundaries of what is possible,” Stewart Resnick, a member of the Chancellor’s Advisory Council at UC Davis, said in a statement. “This gift aims to help our greatest scientific minds meet the great challenge of our time: the sustainability of our planet for future generations.”

The center, according to the university, should “explore new ways to balance food production with leading sustainability practices while advancing the global agriculture industry with scalable solutions.”

“With this historic gift from Lynda and Stewart Resnick, UC Davis will further expand its global reach, helping to shape the future of sustainable food production,” said UC Davis Chancellor Gary S. May. in the press release.

Part of the donation — $10 million — is also earmarked for research grants, which will be awarded this year to UC Davis professors and specialists to identify value-added properties of byproducts from pistachios, almonds, and pistachios. pomegranates – crops that also helped build the Resnicks’ farming empire in California.

This isn’t the first major donation the Resnicks have made to a California university.

In 2019, the couple announced a $750 million donation to Caltech to help research on climate change and sustainability.

Forbes currently puts the couple’s net worth at around $8 billion and estimates that nearly half of all people in the United States purchase at least one of the couple’s products.

Design of the center is expected to begin this year and construction is expected to be completed by 2026.

This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

Lana T. Arthur