The University of Arkansas in Fayetteville has received a $300 million commitment from the Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation in Bentonville, Arkansas, to establish and support an honors college for undergraduates and endow the university's graduate school.
The gift is the largest ever made to a public university in the United States and the fifth largest contribution to a higher education institution, public or private. About $200 million of the donation will be used to create an undergraduate honors college and support its research, faculty, scholarships, study abroad programs, and library and technology support. The rest will be used to endow the graduate school and double the size of its enrollment to 5,500 students by 2010. The donation is contingent upon the university raising another $300 million for academic and support programs by June 30, 2004.
The family of the late Sam M. Walton, founder of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., the world's largest corporation, started the Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation to support programs in Arkansas. In 1998 the foundation gave $50 million to the university's College of Business, which was later named for Sam Walton.
"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 John A. White, chancellor of the university. "What the Walton Family has done today will improve life in Arkansas for generations to come, and we are grateful beyond words."