CANYON, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) – According to a flier released by the school, West Texas A&M University is expected to hold a “Campaign Gift Announcement” to the Paul Engler College of Agriculture & Natural Sciences.


Event information released by the University described that the announcement would be held at the Happy State Bank Academic and Research Building at 10 a.m. Thursday.

During the announcement, speakers addressed two gifts to the University totaling $5 million, intended to “help ensure the continued excellence of the University’s meat science program.”

Dr. Gordon W. Davis of Lubbock pledged $3.75 million to fund two chairs in the Paul Engler College of Agriculture and Natural Sciences, said the University. Caviness Beef Beef Packers also pledged $1.25 million towards one of those chairs.

Among those being named as chairs for the college is Dr. Loni Lucherk, the first female professor at the Engler College of Agriculture and Natural Sciences to do so. While Lucherk will become Gordon W. Davis Chair in Meat Judging, Dr. Ty Lawrence will be the Caviness Davis Distinguished Chair in Meat Science.

“The geographical location of WT is in the center of the raising of livestock and the production of high-quality, wholesome food,” said Engler College of Agriculture and Natural Sciences Dean Dr. Kevin Pond, “The meat science program at WT is blessed with outstanding faculty and students, strong industry support and world-class facilities. Recognizing two faculty members with endowed chairs helps ensure continued excellence and a steady supply of well-trained graduates to meet the needs of the meat industry.”

Including the two gifts, WT said that around $85 million has been raised using its One West fundraising campaign.

“The Department of Agricultural Sciences is so blessed to have people like Gordon Davis, Terry Caviness and their families support our meat science program,” said Dr. Lance Kieth, associate dean of the Engler College of Agriculture and Natural Sciences and head of the Department of Agricultural Sciences. “The establishment of these chairs are an investment in our faculty and in turn an investment in our students and the industry. I have no doubt that Dr. Lawrence and Dr. Lucherk will produce a great return on these investments, but the beauty of a chair is it will produce a return for the generation to come.”

The economic impact of the US meat industry cannot be overstated, Pond said. The meat industry is the largest agricultural segment in the country, employing more than 6 million workers. It plays a vital role in feeding the nation, with the sale of meat and poultry generating more than $1.2 trillion annually.

WT continued to say that the Panhandles stands as the heart of the nation’s meat production, a key reason behind the school’s partnership with the The Texas A&M College of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences in the 2+2 program. Further, that the endowment earnings are expected to give support for research, equipment, travel, supplies, graduate assistantships and other costs related to the meat judging program.

Meat judging programs are the most effective tool for the recruitment and development of future meat science technologists. Meat judging is much more than just the determination of the quality and lean meat yield of a carcass or wholesale cut; the program serves as a training tool to develop young leaders in the meat and livestock industries, Pond said.

“I am extremely honored to have the first-ever endowed chair in meat judging. It is even more special it is in Dr. Gordon Davis’ name, as I am one of many people who have benefitted from Dr. Davis’ meat judging lineage and passion,” Lucherk said. “My goal is to continue to give students the ability to develop a passion like Dr. Davis and I share through a renowned meat judging program at WT. This endowment will allow more students to learn about meat science while also learning the importance of teamwork, problem solving, reasoning, decision making and the other important life skills.”

WT said that Davis also pledged about $2 million for the chair in meat science, contingent on a matching gift from an ag industry leader. Caviness Beef Packers agreed to join Davis in his vision of securing WT’s position of excellence in the field. The naming order was determined by a coin flip at Davis’ request.

“I am humbled and honored that Dr. Davis has chosen to invest in our meat science program and that the Caviness family continues to invest in our curriculum,” Lawrence said. “These gifts firmly cement the role of WT as a meat industry resource for future young talent, academic knowledge and research answers.”

Caviness Beef Packers was further described by WT as “one of the most relationship-oriented companies in the beef industry,” with a history stretching since 1962 and led by second and third-generation family members. It operates two processing locations currently, and markets products worldwide.