Grimm Families Announce Grimm Family Center for Agricultural Business to be Established at CSU Bakersfield
- by Chandler James
BAKERSFIELD, CA - Investing in the future of the fresh produce industry is inevitably good for business, and the Grimm families of Grimmway Farms know this well. Recently, the Board of Trustees of the California State University approved the establishment of the Grimm Family Center for Agricultural Business at CSU Bakersfield, made possible by an endowment created by Barbara Grimm-Marshall and Kari Grimm Anderson that reflects their abiding commitment to the future of the region’s leading industry.
“The Grimm family believes that lives are transformed through education, and that certainly applies to agricultural education,” said Grimm-Marshall. “Ever-evolving technologies and more sophisticated business practices mean that students who wish to pursue a career in agriculture must spend as much time in the classroom as in the field. The center will allow students to work with the best minds in agribusiness today to secure our region’s position as a pioneer and global leader in the industry that has created opportunity and prosperity for so many.”
The $5 million pledge of support for the center is the single largest gift in the 50-year history of the university, as stated in a news release. The gift coincides with the 50th anniversary of family-owned Grimmway Farms and honors the legacy of the company’s founders, Rod and Bob Grimm.
“With this commitment, our family is affirming our belief that agriculture is the economic and cultural cornerstone of our Valley,” Grimm Anderson said. “Kern County has always been a leader in innovative and advanced farming practices. Building on that legacy requires investment in agribusiness education, and we are proud to work with CSU Bakersfield to ensure the center advances knowledge and expertise while honoring the ingenuity of the generations of growers who have made our Valley the envy of the world.”
During its regularly scheduled meeting at the Office of the Chancellor in Long Beach, the Board of Trustees voted unanimously to establish the Grimm Family Center for Agricultural Business at CSU Bakersfield. In remarks at the meeting, President Lynnette Zelezny of CSU Bakersfield said the new center will revolutionize the study of agriculture in the top crop-producing region of the nation.
“The Grimm Family Center for Agricultural Business represents a transformative opportunity for CSU Bakersfield students, our local workforce, economy, and the very future of farming,” President Zelezny said. “With their $5 million, three-year pledge, Barbara and Kari will allow CSU Bakersfield to offer a world-class agribusiness education to thousands of Valley families who have worked the land through the generations, as well as students from all over the country, who will be eager to take advantage of this opportunity, found only at CSUB.”
Grimm-Marshall, Grimm Anderson, Brandon Grimm, and President Zelezny joined CSU Chancellor Timothy P. White at the podium for remarks and the presentation of a resolution honoring the Grimm family’s generous gift.
“What a wonderful legacy for your family,” said Chancellor White, who noted that the Grimms have touched thousands of Kern County families through the power of their philanthropy.
Grimm-Marshall said the gift was the result of a family conversation focused on how to thank the region upon the 50th anniversary of Grimmway Farms.
“We hope, in a small way, that our gift will help the great state of California continue to feed the world with fresh ideas, healthy food, and an abundance of talent.”
The Grimm Family Center for Agricultural Business will offer unprecedented educational opportunities to CSUB’s agribusiness students, who will learn by doing, getting experience directly out in the field, working with experts immersed in the day-to-day enterprise of running successful agribusinesses. Grimm Anderson continued, noting the relationship between her family’s business and the university.
“As our fledgling carrot company grew, so did Cal State Bakersfield,” she said.
The center will create a nexus for conversation and collaboration with the region’s best and brightest agricultural minds and bolster the university’s existing Business School program, led by Dr. Angappa Gunasekaran, dean of the School of Business and Public Administration.
“Agribusiness is an extremely sophisticated and complex world, and change is constant,” Dr. Gunasekaran said. “How to use emerging technologies to advance the industry as well as the regulatory environment that dictates so many day-to-day decisions drive the need for a well-rounded education in this dynamic field.”
The center will be operated by an executive director, who will create a strategic plan, build a regional network of professionals and experts, and oversee the development of curriculum, events and programs, including a lecture series, forums and workshops, professional development, research, and scholarships for students.
“The Grimm family is a pacesetter in the worlds of agriculture and philanthropy,” said CSU Bakersfield Vice President for University Advancement Victor Martin. “To work with such visionary leaders will distinguish the center and attract students from all over who wish to achieve an unparalleled education in agribusiness.”
He continued, “But beyond the Grimms’ reputation in the world of agriculture, there is something more meaningful behind this extraordinary gift. The Grimms are saying to all of the families in our region that farming remains an excellent career as well as a proud tradition that connects us with a way of life that has become a cherished part of our collective heritage.”
The Grimm families and Grimmway Farms have long been dedicated to serving the needs of the community they call home. The Grimm families serve the children of Kern County on a daily basis through two Grimmway Academy charter schools and the Robert A. Grimm Children’s Pavilion for Emergency Services at Memorial Hospital. Additionally, Grimmway Farms has been awarding the Rod and Bob Grimm Memorial Scholarship since 1997, bestowing more than 680 scholarships valued at $1.7 million in tuition support for students who have a parent or guardian employed by Grimmway.
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