Pipes Foundation gifts $250,000 to Future LA Tech Forest Products Center

Jun 27, 2024 | Alumni, Applied and Natural Sciences, General News, Giving, Partnerships

The Pipes Foundation, established by Mr. and Mrs. Tolbert C. Pipes in 1977 with the sole purpose of generating funds to benefit Louisiana Tech University, has made a $250,000 gift to the University’s College of Applied and Natural Sciences (ANS) to benefit the Forest Products Innovation Center (FPIC), a state-of-the-art facility that will serve as a resource for forestry education, research, and innovation in Louisiana and the south-central United States.

Pipes joins other major contributors to the Center, RoyOMartin, Weyerhaeuser, and Hunt Forest Products. Construction on the Center will begin early 2025 on Tech’s South Campus.

“This Center is poised to be transformational for our University but also for the timber and forest products industries at large,” Tech President Jim Henderson said. “The Pipes Foundation’s longtime commitment to Louisiana Tech is appreciated, and this investment in our cherished South Campus is especially meaningful.”

Donations from the Pipes Foundation, combined with income from the sale of timber from the land that the Pipes Foundation donated to ANS, have long provided matching funds for external grant proposals. The ability to provide a cash match on a grant application has allowed the College to be much more competitive for funding, and the resulting matching funds have allowed the College to secure external awards that have strengthened every ANS academic unit.

“The Pipes Foundation’s quarter-million-dollar donation will move us much closer to our $5 million goal to match the State of Louisiana’s $10 million pledge for the Forest Products Innovation Center,” ANS Dean Dr. Gary Kennedy said. “The Center will enhance the economic impact of the forestry industry by creating innovative and sustainable applications for wood-related products. We are very grateful to the Pipes Foundation, Inc. for their continued support.”

The FPIC Pipes Foundation Patio will be a central location where students from many disciplines will gather to continue a discovery-driven culture that promotes innovation and entrepreneurship among industry partners.

“It is most appropriate that the Pipes Foundation chose the outdoor learning space associated with the building as a naming opportunity,” Kennedy said. “Mr. Tolbert Pipes had an ‘outdoor personality’ as a very successful land developer, growing pine timber and processing it in his sawmill.”

“The Board of Directors believes that Mr. and Mrs. Pipes would be very pleased to see their names on the porch area of the building,” said Benny Denny, retired president and CEO of Century Next Bank, who became president of the board in the 1980s because he was president of Lincoln Bank and Trust Co., the Pipes’ primary financial institution, at the time.

The Pipes Foundation presently has five directors: Denny, a member of the University’s Hall of Distinguished Alumni since autumn of 2016; Dr. Ray Newbold, retired forestry professor at Tech; Ron Whitaker, local forester; Gary Hills, Weyerhaeuser regional director; and Mark Taylor, executive vice president and CFO of Century Next Bank.

A native of Choudrant, a Tech Class of 1933 graduate in mechanical and electrical engineering, and a U.S. Navy veteran of both World War II and Korea, Tolbert Pipes was a very successful land developer who established Pipes Foundation as a philanthropic organization to support his alma mater. He and his wife, Mable Carter Pipes, donated 270 acres to the College of Life Sciences (now ANS) which has been used as an outdoor laboratory for the past 40 years. Through their Foundation, the couple then funded the College of Engineering Tolbert C. Pipes Eminent Scholar Chair in 1989.

He was the Engineering Foundation Director from 1985-88, the Outstanding Engineering Alumnus in 1987, a member of the Methodist Church, a Mason, and a Kiwanian.

Mr. Pipes died in January 1990, and Mrs. Pipes died at the age of 94 in July 2008.

“The College of Education and Human Sciences and the College of Applied and Natural Sciences have received several hundred thousand dollars each through the years from timber sales from the land leases the Pipeses donated,” Denny said. “Additionally, the foundation itself has gifted over a half a million dollars directly to the University.”

The Forest Products Innovation Center will provide space for research in various areas of wood products, including sustainable use, enhanced carbon accounting, material strengthening and preservation, and resource efficiency. Additionally, the Center will facilitate collaborations, not only within the forestry industry, but also with other state and national industry partners, including hosting a resident U.S. Forest Service researcher. Academic programs in forestry, agriculture, biology, engineering, science, and other disciplines will all contribute to the learning, research, and service created by the FPIC.