- The Washington Times - Friday, April 12, 2002

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) The family behind the Wal-Mart empire gave the University of Arkansas $300 million yesterday, the largest gift ever to an American public university.
The money, from the Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation, will establish an undergraduate honors college and endow the university's graduate school.
"What the Walton family has done today will improve life in Arkansas for generations to come, and we are grateful beyond words," Chancellor John A. White said in announcing the gift.
Sam Walton, who died in 1992, founded Bentonville-based Wal-Mart four decades ago and it is now the largest company in the world. Mr. Walton graduated from the University of Missouri, but sons Rob and Jim Walton are alumni of Arkansas.
Rob Walton, now Wal-Mart's chairman, is a leader of the university's Campaign for the Twenty-First Century. The campaign, which began in 1998, had a goal of raising $500 million by 2004. Yesterday's gift brings the total to $607 million.
One condition of the foundation's gift was that the university extend the fund-raising campaign for an additional year and commit to raising another $300 million.
"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," Rob Walton said in remarks released before the announcement.
"The investment we are making demonstrates our confidence in the University of Arkansas and its potential for leadership in the global academic community," he said.
According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, the donation is the fifth-largest to any American university, public or private. The biggest is the $600 million given last year to the California Institute of Technology by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.
Jay Allen, a Wal-Mart executive and spokesman for the foundation, said Walton family members opted not to attend yesterday's announcement because they wanted the focus to be on the university. But they said in prepared statements that the goal of their gift was to enhance the Fayetteville school's national reputation and help it create jobs.
"Our family feels strongly that the university can be an economic engine for the state," Jim Walton said.
In 1998, the foundation gave the university's business school $50 million. The school was later renamed the Sam M. Walton College of Business.
Mr. White said the university will use the latest donation to make the school one of the nation's top 50 research institutions. He said $200 million will go to establish an undergraduate honors college and $100 million will go to endow the university's graduate school.

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