Buc-ee's founder gives $50M for new hospitality academic center at Texas A&M

A new academic center is coming to Texas A&M University with the help of Buc-ee's founder and former student Arch "Beaver" Aplin III.

Aplin is contributing $50 million towards establishing the Aplin Center, which will serve as an "immersive learning laboratory for students." His contribution is one of the largest gifts A&M has received from a single donor, the university says.

The Aplin Center will offer a "transformational student experience" through new university programs in hospitality, retail studies and food product development involving innovative degree programs including viticulture, fermentation processes, coffee, and food science, says Texas A&M. The facility also will house product development labs and food tasting centers.

The center will include outdoor and indoor student recreational space, as well as retail and food service areas managed by students and faculty, says the university. The Aplin Center will also host corporate training and recruiting programs, along with professional development opportunities. 


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, says Texas A&M. 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.

Aplin graduated from Texas A&M in 1980 with a construction science degree and opened his first Buc-ee's location in Lake Jackson just two years later, says the university. July 28 marks the 40th anniversary of Aplin opening that first location.

His business has since expanded into five other states and development is underway in another five.