Officials from the University of Arkansas and the Sam M. Walton College of Business were joined by representatives of Walmart and the Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation, students and faculty on Friday to dedicate a three-level display honoring Walmart founder Sam Walton.
The Sam Walton Legacy Display spans the three floors of the central stairway atrium of the Business Building on the University of Arkansas campus. The display and atrium renovations were funded by a combined $1 million gift from Walmart and the Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation, with each organization donating $500,000. The Walmart Visitor Center contributed artifacts and design assistance.
“I am extremely grateful to both Walmart and the Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation for their assistance in making possible this impressive new display,” University of Arkansas Chancellor G. David Gearhart said in a university statement. “Once again, they have demonstrated their interest in, and commitment to, the U of A and to the people of our great state. We appreciate all that Walmart and the Walton Family Foundation do to support the academics, accessibility and the aesthetics that distinguish the University of Arkansas.”
In 1998, the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees voted to rename the business college in honor of Sam M. Walton and the financial, civic and public leadership he had shown throughout his life.
Ann Bordelon, chief financial officer of Sam’s Club, said the new display is a tribute to Sam Walton and is educational for Walton College students.
“I think this display is so important,” she said. “It brings to light what can and also what can’t be taught in a classroom: Just how Sam was able to accomplish so much during his life and beyond. It’s a wonderful way to understand his contribution to the business world on a much deeper level.”
Others attending the celebration included Jim and Lynne Walton, representing the Walton family; Alan Dranow, representing the Walmart Visitor Center; and university officials, including Sharon Gaber, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs; Brad Choate, vice chancellor for university advancement; Don Pederson, vice chancellor for finance and administration; Mike Johnson, associate vice chancellor for facilities management; Richard Hudson, vice chancellor for government and community relations; Jeff Long, director and vice chancellor for athletics; Bruce Pontious, associate vice chancellor for development; and Mark Power, assistant vice chancellor for development.
The renovated tribute to the life and business principles of Sam Walton features a bronze bust of him just inside the second-floor entrance and interactive displays on several levels. Previously, memorabilia had been housed in a single display case in a secluded, low-traffic area of the building.
In 1998, the Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation gave $50 million to the then-named College of Business Administration. In 2002, the Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation gave $300 million to the university — the largest gift on record to an American public higher education institution — during the billion-dollar Campaign for the Twenty-First Century.