URBANA, Ill. (WCIA) — University of Illinois’ new Feed Technology Center has already been constructed, but donations are still coming in to cover the facility’s $20 million price tag.
1969 agricultural science graduate Ed McMillan says his choice to give back was simple.
“It was the right thing to do, and it’s a demonstration that this is not just for companies to support. It’s also an opportunity for individuals who believe in the University of Illinois and the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) to support the critical research contributions ACES makes to animal nutrition,” says McMillan, former CEO of Purina and 12-year member and two-year chair of the University of Illinois Board of Trustees.
“This new facility allows ACES to move beyond the capabilities of their 1920s era feed mill into feed technology research in both livestock feeds and pet foods,” he says. “With state-of-the-art extrusion, pelleting, and sensor equipment, the Feed Technology Center puts Illinois into a category with national leaders in feed manufacturing technology.”
McMillan says his parents were tenant farmers in McDonough County.
“It was important to them that my brother and I pursue opportunities that weren’t available to them or their parents,” he says. “Thanks to our parents’ initial encouragement to attend the University of Illinois in the College of ACES, their kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids have gone on to do big things, and it all came from the basis of an Illinois education and being involved in agriculture. That’s our history.”
A press release says McMillan went into sales management at Purina immediately after graduating from the U. of I. and he quickly climbed the ranks to become CEO at the age of 41.
The release says McMillan constantly sought to better the College of ACES and the U .of I., as he served on advisory boards for the animal sciences and agricultural and consumer economics departments; served on and chaired the Board of Directors for the university’s Alumni Association; and chaired the Board of Managers for both the University of Illinois Research Park and Illinois VENTURES, LLC.
“Although our paths had crossed occasionally, it was not until I became Head of the Department of Animal Sciences with Ed serving as a member of the External Advisory Committee that I began to truly appreciate his capacity to provide solid advice and to do so with absolute selflessness,” says Robert Easter, President Emeritus of the University of Illinois.
The release adds his role as a University of Illinois trustee was “arguably McMillan’s biggest contribution.”
“It’s an honor and a privilege to serve as a trustee. It really is. But it’s also an enormous obligation,” he says.