University of Florida officials announced that construction of a much-needed conference center will begin soon at the university’s Plant Science Research and Education Unit (PSREU) in Citra, thanks to $1.5 million gift from Frank Stronach, founder and Chairman of Magna International Inc.
The 5,380-square-foot multipurpose building will be accompanied by a 7,000-square-foot open pavilion to accommodate year-round educational programs at the site, which is operated by UF/IFAS. In recognition of the gift, the building will be named the Frank Stronach Plant Science Center.
Stronach has been a longtime advocate of the research conducted by the PSREU and wanted to show his support for the successful future of the operation and its educational component.
“Investment in agricultural research is vital to ensure that we will be able to boost crop yields and enhance food quality for the future, particularly in the growing field of all-natural food production,” said Stronach. “The Plant Science Center at Citra will play an important role in conducting and disseminating innovative plant research and scientific breakthroughs related to crop management.”
Magna International Inc. is one the world’s largest suppliers of automotive components, systems and modules. Magna employs more than 92,000 people in 248 manufacturing operations and 81 product development and engineering centers in 25 countries. PRSEU now consists of 22 buildings on 1,068 acres hosting more than 150 UF/IFAS researchers and more than 600 projects. Research areas include crop plant pathology and fertility, vegetables, citrus, entomology, nematology and weed science management, trees and turf, among others.
“Mr. Stronach’s gift will allow us to complete a 23-building complex devoted to all facets of plant research,” said Daniel Colvin, director of research programs for the PSREU. “The anchor conference center building will become the focal point for all educational and outreach activities to make the general public aware of research innovations discovered by UF/IFAS.”
The Frank Stronach Plant Science Center will contain three multi-use meeting rooms, which can be combined to seat up to 300.
UF/IFAS officials expect construction on the building to get under way in the spring and be completed by fall.
Source: UF/IFAS news release