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Buc-ee’s Creator Donates $50 Million to Texas A&M

Contribution to go toward academic center
Arch Alpin donation
Photographs courtesy of Texas A&M

LAKE JACKSON, Texas — Buc-ee’s founder, Arch Beaver Aplin III, has donated $50 million to Texas A&M University to go toward an academic center for students. The donation is one of the largest the university has received from a single donor.

“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.”

Aplin graduated from the university in 1980 with a construction science degree, and two years later, he opened his first Buc-ee’s location.

Lake Jackson, Texas-based Buc-ee’s has 35 stores in Texas. It began multi-state expansion in 2019, and has since opened two travel centers in Alabama (in Leeds and Loxley), two in Florida (Daytona Beach and Saint Augustine)and two in Georgia (Calhoun and Warner Robins). Buc-ee’s broke ground on its first location in South Carolina in 2020, then broke ground on its first Kentucky and Tennessee outposts in 2021, which it followed with two more groundbreakings in Alabama.

Buc-ee’s is also developing its first stores in Colorado, Mississippi and Missouri. The Johnstown, Colo., site, aboutone hour north of Denver, is set to open in 2024, and it will mark the first expansion for Buc-ee's outside of the South.

The university plans to create an immersive indoor and outdoor learning laboratory for students, named the Aplin Center. It will offer programs in hospitality, retail studies and food product development involving innovative degree programs including viticulture, fermentation processes, coffee and food science.

The Aplin Center will also provide a place to host corporate training and recruiting programs, along with professional development opportunities.The primary academic partners will be the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the Mays Business School, although other academic units will be involved in specialty projects.

The center will be built across the street from the Texas A&M Hotel and Conference Center at the intersection of Wellborn Road and the pedestrian tunnel that functions as the main foot and automobile traffic corridor on campus, in the shadow of Kyle Field.

“Arch Beaver Aplin is a true visionary and one of the most creative entrepreneurs I have known,” said Texas A&M president, Dr. M. Katherine Banks. “He remains connected to his university, speaking to many students who share his passion for business and product development. Through this generous gift. He is creating a living, learning laboratory that will provide transformational opportunities for our students. The Aplin Center will positively impact Aggies for generations to come.”

Aplin’s contributions and activism span a range of efforts, including his position as a chairman of Texas Parks and Wildlife, his place on the Electric Reliability Council of Texas Board Selection Committee, his status as a lifetime member of both the Coastal Conservation Association and the 100 Club of Brazoria County and his positions on the Lieutenant Governor’s Transportation Advisory Board and the Board of Directors of The Association of Former Students.

“When Beaver Aplin does something, it’s never halfway,” said Texas A&M University system chancellor John Sharp. “The love he has and shows for Texas A&M and Aggies is inspirational and appreciated. This is an awesome gift and will position Texas A&M to become the top hospitality program in the nation.”

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