by Tyler Hale
One of Arkansas’ most notable business leaders will be getting a college department named after him.
The Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansashas announced plans to name its accounting department after William T. Dillard, the founder of Dillard’s Department Stores. The new department will be the William Dillard Department of Accounting. According to a U of A news release, the naming recognizes Dillard’s “pioneering work in the retail field and founding of the department store chain that bears his family name.”
This marks only the second named department on the University of Arkansas’ campus. The other named department is the Ralph E. Martin Department of Chemical Engineering. Martin, the founder of PetroFac Inc., endowed the chemical engineering department with $5 million in 2005.
“We are pleased and honored to have the William Dillard Department of Accounting established at the University of Arkansas,” Chancellor Joe Steinmetz said in a statement. “Mr. Dillard’s leadership and accomplishments in business are an inspiration to our students and faculty and the naming of this department in his honor ensures his legacy will continue to inspire our students and serve our campus for years to come.”
In addition to founding one of the state’s prominent retail stores, Dillard also graduated from the University of Arkansas’ College of Business Administration in 1935, earning a degree in accounting. He was later honored by the Walton College of Business, being inducted into the first Arkansas Business Hall of Fame class in 1999.
His son, William T. Dillard II, also graduated from the University of Arkansas with a degree in accounting. Now the company’s chairman and CEO, he was inducted into the Arkansas Business Hall of Fame in 2016.
“The act of naming a department is pivotal to the continued improvement of the accounting department and to our college as a whole,” Matt Waller, Walton College dean and Sam M. Walton Leadership Chair in Business, said. “The recognition it represents and the association with the business acumen and success of Mr. Dillard strengthens our ability to attract the best students and attract and retain top faculty.
Dillard II has made a $6.5 million gift – part of a planned $10 million total – that will benefit the accounting department. The gift is aimed at faculty development, professional outreach, program innovations, research and funding, accounting analytics, scholarships and executive-in-residence opportunities.