Published on 10/05/06

UGA, Gold Kist set poultry science professorship

By Faith Peppers
University of Georgia

The University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and Gold Kist Inc. announced the establishment of the Gold Kist Professorship in Poultry Science and Health Oct. 4 in Athens, Ga.

This endowed research position is being funded through a bequest from the late founder of Gold Kist, D.W. Brooks. The new professor will conduct research in avian disease and poultry health enhancement.

"This position will bring a researcher of national and international acclaim to UGA to complement and strengthen our poultry research programs," said CAES Dean J. Scott Angle. "This professorship will allow the department to continue to build upon its outstanding reputation and will ensure that U.S. poultry producers remain global leaders in the efficient production of wholesome and high quality poultry products."

Gold Kist President and CEO John Bekkers added, "Our company has a long history of support and commitment to UGA. We believe the establishment of this professorship has the potential of being one of the most important investments Gold Kist has made for the future of the poultry industry. Research in avian disease prevention is critical to the industry's success, and we are proud to be taking a leadership role along with UGA in this research area."

Georgia is the No. 1 poultry-producing state in the nation. Poultry represents more than half of the state's agricultural income, employs more than 100,000 people and contributes more than $13 billion annually to the state's economy. UGA's Department of Poultry Science has developed a longstanding reputation as one of the premier centers of poultry research in the world.

"The position will be a joint appointment of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and the UGA College of Veterinary Medicine," said Mike Lacy, CAES poultry science department head. "This innovative approach strengthens the natural relationship and interaction between our two colleges and links our research in poultry nutrition, genetics and avian health. The benefits of such research to Georgia poultry farmers and consumers are critically important, whether we are talking about routine disease prevention, food safety, bioterrorism or keeping avian influenza out of the United States."

"This new professorship will be a great addition to our already well-respected graduate program and add to our ability to provide highly trained specialists to meet the food industry's needs in our state and nation," Lacy added.

"We are grateful for Gold Kist's continued leadership in the poultry industry and at our university. This endowed position will allow us to bring another world-class scientist to the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences faculty," Angle said.

Gold Kist is the third largest chicken company in the United States, accounting for more than 9 percent of the chicken produced in the United States in 2005. The company operates a fully integrated business that includes live production, processing, marketing and distribution. Gold Kist's operations include nine divisions in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina.

Faith Peppers is the director of public affairs with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.