Wealth Created by Wal-Mart Supports Massive Philanthropic Efforts in Arkansas

by Jan Cottingham  on Monday, Jul. 2, 2012 12:00 am  

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, which Sam Walton’s daughter Alice opened in Bentonville on Nov. 11, 2011, represents the single largest philanthropic act made possible by Wal-Mart wealth in Arkansas, but innumerable other gifts have transformed medical, education and athletic institutions across the state.

• Also in about 1991, Baum gives $1 million-plus for a new baseball stadium at the UA, as do Pat and Willard Walker. Their gifts to what would become Baum Stadium eventually total more than $4 million.

• In 1994 and 1995, Sam and Helen Walton’s only daughter, Alice, and her family help raise $15 million to begin work on the Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport in Highfill. The Walton family pledges the purchase of $5 million in bonds. Then-President Bill Clinton helps dedicate the $109 million, 2,185-acre airport when it opens in 1998. The airport names its terminal the Alice L. Walton Terminal Building. She is described as essential to the creation of the airport.

• In February 1996, Helen Walton contributes $4 million to UA’s College of Business, which creates the Alice L. Walton Chair in Finance.

• In December 1997, Helen Walton donates $2 million to endow a child-care center at the Harvey & Bernice Jones Center for Families in Springdale.

• In 1998, the Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation announces a $50 million gift to UA’s College of Business Administration, at that time the largest gift ever to a public business college in the U.S. The college is later renamed the Sam M. Walton College of Business.

That same year, the foundation, at Helen Walton’s behest, gives $39.5 million to the University of the Ozarks in Clarksville, immediately doubling that school’s endowment.

• In April 1999, the Willard & Pat Walker Charitable Foundation gives $4 million to John Brown University in Siloam Springs for a community center and classrooms. The center is to house the Donald G. Soderquist Center for Business Leadership & Ethics, named for Wal-Mart’s vice chairman and chief operating officer, who is chairman of JBU’s board of trustees.

• In May 1999, the Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation also gives $4 million for the Soderquist Center.

• In June 1999, Pauline Whitaker of Rogers gives $1 million to Northwest Arkansas Community College in Bentonville, her fourth donation to the school for a total of $1.7 million at the time. Whitaker is the widow of Don Whitaker, hired in 1962 to run the first Wal-Mart store in Rogers.

• In 1999, the Windgate Charitable Foundation of Siloam Springs gives John Brown University about $2 million. The foundation was endowed in 1993, using a gift of Wal-Mart stock from Dorothea Hutcheson of Fort Smith. Hutcheson is the mother of Bill Hutcheson Jr., whose Hutcheson Shoe Co. of Fort Smith was bought out by Wal-Mart in 1978. Bill Hutcheson Jr. became a vice president of Wal-Mart.

• In June 2000, retired Wal-Mart President Ferold Arend and his wife, Jane, give $5 million to build what would become the Arend Arts Center at Bentonville High School. Soon after, Jack Shewmaker, a member of the Wal-Mart board of directors and former chief financial officer, contributes $1 million for a sound system and lights.

• In October 2000, the Willard & Pat Walker Charitable Foundation gives $7 million to the University of the Ozarks in Clarksville for a building to house teachers’ education and communications programs.



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