Thursday, April 11, 2002

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - The University of Arkansas today received the largest gift in the history of American public higher education - a $300 million commitment from the Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation of Bentonville, Ark., to establish and endow an undergraduate honors college and endow the graduate school.

"This unprecedented generosity from the Walton Family will transform the University of Arkansas for our students and faculty, and in the process position us to serve as a powerful engine of economic development and cultural change for the entire state," said University of Arkansas Chancellor John A. White. "What the Walton Family has done today will improve life in Arkansas for generations to come, and we are grateful beyond words.

"This gift will allow the University of Arkansas to realize its vision as a nationally competitive, student-centered research university serving Arkansas and the world," White added. "Our goal is to build a 'Top 50’ public research university to help lift our state, and this gift will do two extremely important things to propel us in that direction.

"First, it will allow the University to recruit highly talented undergraduate and graduate students and significantly greater numbers of them," he said. "This is essential because Arkansas ranks next to last among the 50 states and the District of Columbia in the percentage of the adult population with bachelor’s and advanced degrees. Our state cannot compete in a global economy without a better-educated citizenry.

"Second, through the recruitment of new faculty and new graduate students, we will be able to build significantly stronger research programs in critical areas - in nanoscience, electronics packaging, spatial and sensing technologies, finance, food science, the life sciences, biotechnology, the physical and social sciences, logistics and transportation, engineering, retailing, and many other key areas. This will enable us to create new products, processes, inventions, insights and interpretations that will help attract knowledge and technology-based business and industry to the state while also helping keep existing Arkansas companies competitive," White said.

The gift is the largest ever made to a U.S. public university. It is twice the size of what was announced on March 2, 2002, as the largest gift to a single public university - an estate gift estimated to be worth $150 million to the University of Texas at Austin. And it is larger than the gift of $250 million in stock to the University of Colorado System (which encompasses four campuses) from William T. and Claudia Coleman in 2001.

The gift also ranks as the fifth largest ever made to an American university, whether public or private, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education. In first place is the $600 million gift to California Institute of Technology made by Gordon and Betty Moore and their foundation in 2001; a $400 million gift to Stanford University by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation in 2001; a $360 million gift to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute from an anonymous donor in 2001; a $350 million gift over 20 years to Massachusetts Institute of Technology from Patrick J. and Lore Harp McGovern in 2000; and a $300 million gift of stock to Vanderbilt University from Ingram Charitable Foundation in 1998.

"The Walton gift is a catalyst that can help place an aspiring flagship public university on a level playing field with the best public universities in America," said G. David Gearhart, vice chancellor for University advancement. "Their generosity will bring all of our undergraduate and graduate programs in every school and college to a level of quality undreamed of only a few years ago."

The Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation was founded to support specific charities in the state of Arkansas. It was established by the family of the late Sam M. Walton, who created Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., now the world’s largest corporation.

In October 1998, the Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation made a $50 million gift to what was later renamed the Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas. At the time, the gift was the largest ever made to an American business school.

Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee praised the Walton Foundation gift as "an act of historic proportions that will lift the entire state. There’s no question that a nationally competitive public research university and a strong higher education infrastructure are absolutely critical to economic and social progress in Arkansas."

Rob Walton, chairman of the board of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., and co-chair of the University’s Campaign for the Twenty-First Century, said, "The investment we are making demonstrates our confidence in the University of Arkansas and its potential for leadership in the global academic community. It is also an expression of our commitment to building a brighter future for the state and the nearly three million men, women and children who call Arkansas home.

"We want to see Arkansas in position to compete economically, to improve the standard of living for everyone, and to develop a vibrant social and cultural life as well. One of the keys for that to happen is to build a world-class public research university, which the University of Arkansas is rapidly becoming.

"This gift also is an expression of confidence in the leadership of Chancellor John White. He has proven himself as a visionary leader of exceptional quality who gets results. The University of Arkansas has made impressive progress on many fronts since Chancellor White came here nearly five years ago, but we felt a substantial investment was needed to allow the University to make the quantum leap so that the vision he has inspired for the University and our state can be realized," Walton said.

"Finally, we have been impressed with the rapid improvements at the Sam M. Walton College of Business after our $50 million investment three and one-half years ago," Walton added. "Under the leadership of Dean Doyle Williams, the College has made substantial gains in research productivity, outreach to business and industry, multicultural diversity among faculty, students and staff, new facilities and technologies, student enrollment, and academic reputation. We are confident the gift made today will permit similar gains across the larger University."

Aside from his responsibilities with Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., Walton, a 1966 alumnus of the University of Arkansas and a 1969 law alumnus of Columbia University, is one of four co-chairs of the University’s Campaign for the Twenty-First Century.

The other co-chairs are Tommy Boyer, owner and CEO of Micro Images, Amarillo, Texas, who currently presides over the Campaign; Jim Walton, chairman and CEO of Arvest Bank Group, Bentonville, Ark., who will preside from July 1, 2002, to June 30, 2003; and Frank Broyles, University of Arkansas men’s athletics director, who will preside from July 1, 2003, to June 30, 2004. Johnelle Hunt, corporate secretary of J.B. Hunt Transport, Inc., of Lowell, Ark., is Campaign treasurer.

Jim Walton, a 1971 alumnus of the University of Arkansas, said he was confident the $300 million gift will be a wise investment in the state’s future.

"Our family feels strongly that the University can be an economic engine for the state," he said. "By giving the University the means to help drive the economy and develop new opportunities for the people of Arkansas, we are optimistic that our gift will lift the entire state so that it can thrive and not merely survive in the 21st century."

Started in 1998, the Campaign for the Twenty-First Century is a six-year effort to raise $500 million in private gift support by June 30, 2004. As of March 31, the Campaign had raised $307 million in gifts and pledges.

"With the Walton Family gift, we have gone more than $100 million over our original $500 million goal - 27 months ahead of schedule," said Gearhart. "Obviously, this changes everything. Working with Chairman Boyer and the other Campaign leaders, we will be in discussions over the next week to determine a new goal for the Campaign while most likely extending its life for another year."

That will be necessary, Gearhart added, because a condition of receiving the $300 million gift is that the University commit to raising an additional $300 million for academic and support programs between January 1, 2002, and the end of the Campaign.

"That means we could wind up with the largest fund-raising campaign in the history of the 12 universities in the Southeastern Conference," Gearhart noted. "The largest to date is the campaign completed by the University of Florida in 2000, which ultimately raised $850.4 million. The second largest is that of the University of Kentucky, currently in a $600 million campaign which is scheduled to end in 2003."

The $300 million gift will be apportioned as follows: $200 million will be used to establish and endow a new, university-wide undergraduate honors college; $100 million will be used to endow the University of Arkansas Graduate School.

Plans for the new honors college call for it to grow to about 2,000 students over the next few years, building on the more than 1,100 currently enrolled students who hold at least one of the four highest merit scholarships the University offers for students of exceptional academic ability: Chancellor’s Scholarships, Sturgis Fellowships, Bodenhamer Fellowships, and the new Boyer Fellowships.

The honors college is designed to "capture" for the University those high achieving Arkansas natives who are lured out of state by colleges and universities with attractive scholarship programs. It is also designed to attract extremely talented out-of-state students. Wherever they come from, their matriculation at the University of Arkansas greatly increases the likelihood that they will live in Arkansas after graduation. Their presence will enlarge the talented leadership corps in science, technology, education, business, and the creative fields needed to move the state forward.

Students qualified to enter the honors college also will be enrolled in one of six "home" undergraduate schools or colleges of the University: the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences; the School of Architecture; the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences; the Sam M. Walton College of Business; the College of Education and Health Professions; or the College of Engineering.

White will recommend to University of Arkansas President B. Alan Sugg and the Board of Trustees approval of the creation of the honors college at the next regularly scheduled meeting, June 7, 2002.

Then, final plans for the honors college will be approved by a board of governors consisting of the chancellor, the provost (chief academic officer), the dean of the new honors college, the vice chancellor for university advancement, the vice chancellor for student affairs, and representatives of the Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation. In addition to the board of governors, the dean of the honors college will work closely with the other academic deans of the university.

The Honors College:

The $200 million dedicated to the honors college will be allocated thus:

For student support, $113 million.

$75 million in endowment to support a continuous total of 300 endowed honors fellows, enabling the University to recruit the most talented students in the state, nation and world, those with an ACT score of at least 32 (out of 36 possible points). The University will recruit 75 students in each entering class until the critical mass of 300 has been reached.
$24 million in endowment to support 300 honors college academy scholars. Students who show great academic promise but may not have the credentials of the honors fellows will be given an opportunity to enroll as freshmen in the honors academy. If they succeed, they will be encouraged to continue in the honors college. The University will recruit 75 students in each entering class until the critical mass of 300 has been reached.
$10 million in endowment to support the research of undergraduates in the honors college.
$4 million in endowment to support international study experiences.
For faculty, $58 million:

$30 million to establish 20 endowed chairs to recruit new scholar-teachers to the honors program. These faculty also will hold appointments in the Graduate School and in the "home" school or college appropriate to their discipline.
$15 million to create a fund for endowed faculty positions. This pool will be used to leverage gifts from other benefactors for the establishment of endowed faculty positions for the honors college, whether as endowed professorships or endowed chairs. Thus, this strategy will enable the University to create as many as 20 additional endowed chairs or 60 additional endowed professorships, or any combination thereof. These faculty also will hold appointments in the Graduate School and the appropriate "home" school or college.
$10 million to establish 20 endowed distinguished professorships for the honors college, who also will hold appointments in the Graduate School and in an appropriate "home" school or college.
$3 million for an endowed chair for the dean of the honors college, a scholar and academic leader of international distinction who will have the opportunity to form one of the premier undergraduate honors colleges in America.
For library and technology support for the honors college, $29 million:

$24 million for a library acquisitions fund and endowment to support the honors college. An immediate acquisition fund of $5 million will be used to update and acquire library materials. The remaining $19 million will create a permanent endowment for this purpose.
$5 million for a technology upgrade fund, to improve access to Internet 2 and to upgrade classrooms, laboratories and other learning sites into state-of-the-technology instructional environments.
The Graduate School:

The $100 million to endow the University of Arkansas Graduate School will be apportioned as follows. The intent is to double the size of graduate enrollments from 2,936 at present to 5,500 by 2010 in the University’s 34 doctoral and 96 master’s programs, and to support the growth of University research programs.

For graduate students, $64 million:

$24 million in endowment to establish 60 distinguished doctoral fellowships, each funded by an endowment of $400,000 which would generate about $20,000 annually for the fellowship. This level of stipend, to be supplemented up to $10,000 by the University department that enrolls the student, will allow the University to compete for the most talented doctoral students in the nation.
$40 million for a graduate assistant endowment fund. Too many stipends for graduate assistants at the University are low paying and noncompetitive, nationally. The annual earnings from this endowment - roughly $2 million - will be used to increase the amount of current stipends to bring them up to competitive levels, while also creating new stipends where needed.
For graduate research faculty chairs, $24 million:

$24 million will go to endow eight new graduate faculty endowed research chairs, each funded with a principal of $3 million. These will be used to recruit eight top new faculty who have been elected to the National Academies of Science or Engineering or equivalent organizations worldwide. These faculty members will focus exclusively on developing or enhancing research programs in their areas of expertise and will work with graduate students and honors college undergraduates in these endeavors.
For library and research support of graduate education, $12 million.

$8 million to endow a graduate student research fund, to support the travel, research and equipment needs of graduate students.
$4 million for a library support endowment in support of graduate education. This will support library acquisitions and other library services related to the needs of graduate students.

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