California State University-Bakersfield will be the home to the Grimm Family Center for Agricultural Business. The university’s announcement Jan. 28 announcement included CSU-Bakersfield President Lynnette Zelezny (from left), Brandon Grimm, Kari Grimm Anderson, Barbara Grimm-Marshall, CSU Chancellor Timothy White and Garrett Ashley, vice chancellor for university relations and advancement. ( Courtesy Grimmway Farms )

With the backing of a $5 million pledge, the California State University board of trustees has approved establishing the Grimm Family Center for Agricultural Business at the Bakersfield campus.

The endowment created by Barbara Grimm-Marshall and Kari Grimm Anderson, through the single-largest gift in the university’s 50 years, coincides with the 50th anniversary of Grimmway Farms and honors the legacy of company founders Rod and Bob Grimm.

“The Grimm family believes that lives are transformed through education, and that certainly applies to agricultural education,” Grimm-Marshall said in a news release. “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 commitment affirms the family’s belief that agriculture is the economic and cultural cornerstone of the San Joaquin Valley, Grimm Anderson said in the release.

“Kern County has always been a leader in innovative and advanced farming practices,” she said in the release. “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 today to establish the Grimm Family Center for Agricultural Business at CSU Bakersfield.

The California State University board of trustees unanimously voted in favor of establishing the center at its Jan. 28 board meeting in Long Beach.

At the meeting, Lynnette Zelezny, president of CSU-Bakersfield, said the center will revolutionize the study of agriculture in the top crop-producing region of the U.S.

“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 (CSU-Bakersfield).”


'A wonderful legacy'

Grimm-Marshall, Grimm Anderson, Brandon Grimm and Zelezny joined CSU Chancellor Timothy White for a presentation of a resolution honoring the family’s gift on Jan. 28.

“What a wonderful legacy for your family,” said White, noting that the Grimms have touched thousands of Kern County families through their philanthropy.

The center’s strategic plan and curriculum will be overseen by an executive director, who will help build a regional network of professionals, create a lecture series and establish forums and workshops according to the release.

Victor Martin, CSU-Bakersfield vice president for university advancement, called the Grimms pacesetters for ag and philanthropy, and said their generosity will attract students from all over.

“But beyond the Grimms’ reputation in the world of agriculture, there is something more meaningful behind this extraordinary gift,” Martin said in the release. “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 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. 

Other philanthropy projects from the family include two Grimmway Academy charter schools, the Robert A. Grimm Children’s Pavilion for Emergency Services at Memorial Hospital, and the Rod and Bob Grimm Memorial Scholarships that have awarded $1.7 million in tuition support since 1997.

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