$10 million gift names Poultry Science Department for Prestage family

Date posted: October 10, 2012

Picture of Marsha and Bill Prestage, Chancellor Randy Woodson, Sam Pardue, Mike Williams and College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Dean Richard Linton.Photo by Marc HallCelebrating a $10 million gift to the N.C. State University Department of Poultry Science are, seated front, Marsha and Bill Prestage, and rear from left, Chancellor Randy Woodson, Sam Pardue, interim director of Academic Programs in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences; Mike Williams, interim head of the Department of Poultry Science; and Richard Linton, dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

North Carolina State University’s Poultry Science Department has been renamed for the Prestage Family. Chancellor Randy Woodson announced a $10 million gift that will name and endow the department in N.C. State’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

The Prestage Family Department of Poultry Science was renamed in honor of Bill and Marsha Prestage and their family, longtime supporters of N.C. State and owners of Prestage Farms, a poultry and pork production company headquartered in Clinton. Home to one of only six poultry science departments in the nation, N.C. State produces job-ready graduates in an important domestic industry.

“The impact of this gift will ensure the pre-eminence of the Prestage Department of Poultry Science for generations to come and provide a powerful stimulus for economic development in North Carolina and beyond,” Woodson says. “The partnerships we have with supporters like the Prestage family are essential in helping us fulfill our mission as the largest public institution of higher education in North Carolina. Together we will continue to strengthen N.C. State’s position as an incubator for research, educational innovation, collaboration and economic development.”

picture of Chancellor Randy Woodson talking with Marsha and Bill Prestage

Photo by Marc Hall

Chancellor Randy Woodson, right, talks with Bill and Marsha Prestage.

The gift will be divided into two endowments that will provide income in perpetuity to support a strategic combination of teaching, research and extension programs. The Prestage Department of Poultry Science Endowment for Excellence will allow the department to respond to emerging needs and opportunities by providing faculty and student support, curriculum enrichment, increased opportunity for interdisciplinary research and enhanced ability to respond to an agricultural crisis.

The second gift endowment will be used to fund the Prestage Family Distinguished Professorship in Turkey Physiology, Nutrition and Immunology. The distinguished professorship will allow N.C. State to recruit a renowned faculty member who will contribute to the department’s overall teaching, research and outreach mission.

“This endowment is an investment in the future. With only six poultry science departments left in the country, we felt it was important to endow the N.C. State poultry science department in order to ensure that the department would always have the funding necessary to continue its service to the industry,” says Bill Prestage. “While we could have built a building, buildings will eventually need to be replaced. An endowment is forever.”

Poultry production is big business in North Carolina. The state ranks second in the nation, producing nearly 10 percent of all U.S. poultry. Annually, North Carolina poultry companies produce approximately 800 million broilers, or chickens raised for meat, 32 million turkeys and more than 3 billion eggs. North Carolina currently ranks No. 2 nationally in turkey production; No. 3 in total poultry; No. 5 in broiler production; and No. 10 in egg production.

“For many years, both the department and the college have been known as go-to places for scientific information, technical expertise and a strong base of students. This transformational gift will help us better address the most challenging agricultural concerns,” said Dr. Richard Linton, the college’s dean. “Through its partnership with the Prestage family, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences will build upon its existing strengths and develop new opportunities for leadership. We will continue to grow in our role as an engaged, responsive and innovative college.”

Recent N.C. Department of Agriculture statistics show that poultry represents nearly 38 percent of all cash receipts from agriculture. Conservative estimates place the “farm gate” value of North Carolina poultry products at $3.6 billion.

“In North Carolina, poultry production accounts for tens of thousands of jobs and millions in economic activity,” said Dr. Mike Williams, professor and interim head of the Prestage Department of Poultry Science. “The department, one of only six poultry science departments in the United States, provides expertise to the poultry industry and citizens throughout North Carolina. The impacts of this department’s programs are significant and profound, and will only increase thanks to this generous gift from the Prestage family.”

Prestage Farms works with more than 400 family farms across the country to produce about 1.25 billion pounds of turkey and pork each year.

The Prestage Department of Poultry Science will be the second named academic department in the history of the university; the Edward P. Fitts Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering was named in 2005.

More information is available at the N.C. State announcement page:
news.ncsu.edu/announcements/prestage-family-gift.

- Mick Kulikowski, University News Services

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