In the early 1980's, Louisiana oilman C.B. "Doc" Pennington and his wife Irene, bestowed on Louisiana State University a $125 million gift to create "the biggest and best nutrition research center in the country." The gift would create a stunning 234-acre campus in Baton Rouge housing 688,000 square-feet of state-of-the-art laboratories, clinics, conference facilities and office space and become the foremost academic nutritional research institution in the world. Read about "Doc" Pennington below.


Claude Bernard Pennington is born in Chunky, Mississippi on March 30.

Claude B. Pennington and Irene Wells are married.

C.B. “Doc” Pennington, Baton Rouge Optometrist decides to change careers, turning to the oil business.

Doc goes independent, striking his first oil well in Lobdell Field near Baton Rouge.

Called by the Chicago Tribune “the best real estate transaction since Peter Minuit bought Manhattan Island from the Indians in 1624 for $24 in beads, trinkets and cloth,” Doc acquires 2,000 acres of land near Port Hudson called Mt. Pleasant Plantation. Pennington had approached the owner, 93-year-old Edward Eagle Brown, chairman of the board of the First Chicago Bank, proposing to lease the land. Brown refused, offering instead to sell.  Reportedly, when Pennington responded that he did not have the money, $400,000, Brown himself lent Doc the full purchase price.

August 16:  Doc’s only son, Claude Bernard Pennington, Jr., dies in an oilfield accident, leaving a young wife, Peggy, and three children:  Paula, Claude, III, and Daryl.

Amoco, leasing the acreage from Doc Pennington, strikes pay dirt, hitting the “Tuscaloosa Trend” in Port Hudson field.

LSU Board of Supervisor’s member, Billy Brown, tells Allen A. Copping, D.D.S., chancellor of the Louisiana State Medical Center, that Doc Pennington is considering a large gift to an educational institution. Dr. Copping visits Doc Pennington and suggests a nutritional center.

At age 80, Doc Pennington and his wife, Irene W. Pennington, pledge $125 million to Louisiana State University, which at the time is the largest single gift to an institution of higher learning. Pennington cites his travels to underdeveloped nations and witness of malnourished children as reason to focus on nutrition. 

Pennington creates the Pennington Medical Foundation to serve as trustee of the gift. David Treen is governor of Louisiana. Dr. Copping begins discussions with Doc to define the exact purpose and nature of how the gift will be used. The Board of Trustees of the Pennington Medical Foundation holds their first meeting.

Louisiana State University Medical Center awards Doc an honorary Doctor of Science degree. (See note on additional honorary degree under 1991)

April 21: Allen Copping, David Treen, Doc and Irene Pennington, Board of Supervisors Chairman Sheldon D. Beychok, and the immediate past president of the LSU system, Dr. Martin D. Woodin, symbolically break ground on what Pennington calls “the country’s biggest and best nutrition and preventive medicine center.”

May 16: LSU (Baton Rouge) awards C.B. “Doc” Pennington Honorary Doctor of Science. 

August 7: C.B. “Doc” Pennington, the Center’s benefactor, passes away. He was 97.