FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – A groundbreaking ceremony for The Jean Tyson Child Development Study Center at the University of Arkansas was held with members of the Tyson family and the university community on Aug. 23. The center will provide child development educators with the skills to succeed and provide high-quality childcare to the Northwest Arkansas community.

A lead gift of $2.5 million by the Tyson Family Foundation and the Tyson Foods Foundation was used in the development of the project. The center will provide educational and research opportunities for more than 300 University of Arkansas students, faculty and children each year and will meet the childcare needs of more than 140 families from the campus and community.

“Our mother, and my children’s grandmother, believed strongly in providing young children the very best environment to be raised and educated in. She certainly did that for our family,” said John Tyson, chairman of Tyson Foods and son of the late Don Tyson. “We are pleased to be able to support this great project that will enable the same thing to be done for many other Northwest Arkansas families, and for students to be educated and enabled to do this in ever widening circles across the state of Arkansas. Our family and our company are honored to lend her name to the effort.”

The campus currently offers an Infant Development Center and a Nursery School through the School of Human Environmental Sciences in the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences. Both the Infant Development Center and the Nursery School are vital to students and faculty who need childcare, and important to students who study child development, nursing and early childhood education and can obtain valuable experience in these learning labs. Both facilities, while able to attain national accreditation from the National Association for the Education of Young Children, are currently inadequate. The nursery school faces severe space limitations.

“This project provides multiple benefits that will enhance the university’s academic quality and its ability to support our students and employees,” said Chancellor G. David Gearhart, University of Arkansas. “The Jean Tyson Center will be a great learning resource for faculty and students studying child development. At the same time, the center will address our campus community’s need for high-quality childcare options.”

Additional funding supports this project include a $500,000 gift from Mark Rumsey, president and CEO of Zero Mountain Inc., a cold storage warehousing company. Rumsey explained John Tyson’s grandfather inspired Rumsey’s father to not give up on “the Zero Mountain dream. It is our corporate belief that the private sector, by donations such as these, can make huge differences to the communities we invest in.”

“More than $3 million has been raised, and more support is needed,” Steve Voorhies, manager of media relations, university relations, University of Arkansas, told MEATPOULTRY.com. “Revenue from the new facility will also help to pay costs” at the 23,000 sq.-ft. facility.