McMillon Family Donates $1 Million to Walton College for Retail Innovation

Students enjoy the annual block party in Shollmier Plaza next to the four buildings occupied in part by the Sam M. Walton College of Business.
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Students enjoy the annual block party in Shollmier Plaza next to the four buildings occupied in part by the Sam M. Walton College of Business.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – University of Arkansas alumnus Doug McMillon and his wife, Shelley, are donating $1 million to establish the McMillon Family Endowed Excellence Fund for the benefit of the Sam M. Walton College of Business.

The fund will establish an endowment as the catalyst for a proposed School of Global Retail Operations and Innovation, which will have a unique interdisciplinary scope and global focus to engage both undergraduate and graduate students in retail learning and research. The proposed school, which would be housed within the Walton College, will require additional fundraising resources and be subject to University of Arkansas Board of Trustees approval.

McMillon, a 1989 Walton graduate, is president and chief executive officer of Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

“This gift will be the catalyst to help us eventually establish the proposed School of Global Retail Operations and Innovation. The school has the potential to offer interdisciplinary programs in retail, generate international prominence and establish ourselves as the premier location for consumer research and retail education,” said Chancellor G. David Gearhart. “The McMillons’ generous contribution will positively impact both the Walton College and the University of Arkansas as a whole, as each one will benefit from the other’s success. As CEO for Walmart and as a volunteer for the university, Doug has established himself as a respected leader, and we are very pleased to have him involved in our efforts. He and Shelley are wonderful friends of the university.”

The McMillon Family Endowed Excellence Fund will increase opportunities for advanced retail studies by providing support for initiatives promoting consumer sciences and consumer behavior-related research. Summer support for faculty members, doctoral student stipends and retail research stipends will all qualify for funding, as will graduate-level retail curriculum and faculty travel to key conferences to promote the proposed School of Global Retail Operations and Innovation.

 “We greatly appreciate this generous gift from Doug and Shelley McMillon as initial seed funding in support of the establishment of our School of Global Retail Operations and Innovation,” said Walton College Dean Eli Jones. “The investment is a clear indication of the McMillons’ support of the mission and direction of Walton. Many at Walton have been working toward the creation of such a school, and this gift gets us closer to making it a reality. We are hopeful that others will follow the McMillons’ lead and support our vision of building a best-in-class retail school focused on the current and future needs of retailers and suppliers around the world.”

The proposed School of Global Retail Operations and Innovation will educate future retail leaders and foster research that benefits business by advancing the science of retailing. Ideally, the school will become the leading interdisciplinary higher education institution for the discovery of innovative solutions to complex retail challenges. The proposed school would initially draw on the expertise of all departments and outreach centers within the business college, but leaders envision it someday growing to include disciplines from across the university as diverse as agriculture, anthropology, architecture, communication, engineering, psychology, sociology and even areas such as the visual arts. It also will strengthen the college’s pursuit of becoming a top 20 business school. 

“It’s an honor and a joy to help launch the School of Global Retail Operations and Innovation at Walton College,” Doug McMillon said. “The University of Arkansas has given us so much, and Shelley and I appreciate the chance to give back.” 

“This is a time of great change in the retail industry,” he said. “We need to invest in a new generation of innovative leaders, and Walton College can play a unique role as a destination for cutting-edge retail education. We hope this fund will increase opportunities for students and faculty members, strengthen the college and lay the foundation for many promising careers around the world. Northwest Arkansas has revolutionized retail before, and the students of the U of A can do it again.”

McMillon began working for Walmart in 1984 as a summer associate in one of the company’s distribution centers. He graduated from the Walton College with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration in accounting and also holds an M.B.A. in finance from the University of Tulsa. He serves on the Walton College’s Dean’s Executive Advisory Board and has extensive involvement with the Center for Retailing Excellence. Shelley McMillon graduated from Missouri State University with a bachelor of science in education and serves on the boards of directors of the Children’s Advocacy Center of Benton County and the Bentonville Library Foundation. The McMillons serve in volunteer leadership roles for Campaign Arkansas, an eight-year fundraising effort currently in the planning stage.


David Speer, director of communications
Sam M. Walton College of Business

Jennifer Holland, director of development communications
University Relations

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