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'A happy place' | Texas A&M to build Aplin Center thanks to $50 million donation by Buc-ee's founder

Arch “Beaver” Aplin III graduated from Texas A&M in 1980 where he earned a construction science degree. He opened his first Buc-ee's in Lake Jackson in 1982.

COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Buc-ee's founder, Arch “Beaver” Aplin III, has decided to give back to his alma mater in a major way.

The gas station extraordinaire has gifted Texas A&M University with $50 million to build a hospitality entrepreneurship program that will serve as an immersive learning laboratory for students.

EDITORIAL NOTE: The above video originally aired April 2022.

“We want to create a learning, gathering space on the A&M campus that exemplifies hospitality,” Aplin said. “A place where people come together. A place where the Aggie culture can thrive – a happy place.”

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The space will be called the Aplin Center. It is expected to provide students with:

  • New university programs in hospitality, retail studies and food product development involving innovative degree programs including viticulture, fermentation processes, coffee, and food science. 
  • House product development laboratories and food tasting centers, which can be utilized in partnership with related industries.
  • Outdoor and indoor student recreational space, as well as retail and food service areas managed by students and faculty through the educational programs.
  • Corporate training and recruiting programs, along with professional development opportunities. 

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Texas A&M President Dr. M. Katherine Banks has had a vision of a world-class hospitality entrepreneurship program and Aplin said this is “just what Texas A&M needs and I’m proud to have an opportunity to be involved.”

Aplin earned a construction science degree from A&M in 1980 and opened his first Buc-ee’s in Lake Jackson, Texas, two years after commencement. 

His $50 million contribution to build the Aplin Center is one of the largest gifts A&M has received from a single donor.

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