Connor Gift of $1.5 Million Retains Top Faculty in Fulbright College

Sandra and Robert Connor
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Sandra and Robert Connor

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Robert and Sandra Connor of Little Rock and Dallas have made a $1.5 million pledge to enhance the Robert C. and Sandra Connor Endowed Faculty Fellowship at the University of Arkansas.

Their contribution will benefit full-time junior-level faculty in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences and will be used to support their teaching, research, service and career development.

“Bob and Sandra are two of our most engaged volunteers and are excellent ambassadors of the University of Arkansas,” said Chancellor G. David Gearhart. “This gift will make a significant impact on our faculty recruitment and retention efforts – key measures supporting our goal of becoming nationally recognized as a top 50 public research university. The Connors understand how a gift like this enhances the entire campus. We are greatly appreciative for their leadership, philanthropy and involvement.”

Fulbright College Dean Todd Shields recognized the significance of the gift and the impact it makes on the college: “In the last decade, we have made great strides in recruiting exceptional faculty talent to Fayetteville. With this gift, the Connors provide us with an invaluable resource to retain faculty members who are setting new standards of teaching, research and service at the University of Arkansas. We are extremely grateful for their generosity, which will allow us to further enhance one of Fulbright College’s most prestigious faculty fellowship programs.”

The couple established the Connor Faculty Fellowship Fund in 2004 to provide essential faculty development opportunities to rising academic experts in the college by supporting research initiatives, travel opportunities and classroom programs. A college committee that includes the dean annually names 10 Connor Faculty Fellows. All awardees are assistant professors who have made significant contributions to the college and their own departments.  

Since its inception, the Connor Faculty Fellowship endowment has enabled Fulbright College to recognize more than 75 Connor Fellows, and many are now leaders in their departments, serving in administrative capacities or in prominent teaching and research positions with impressive publication records. 

“We were delighted with the success of the original endowment and the impact the faculty fellows have made to Fulbright College,” said Sandra Connor. “It is inspiring to us to support junior-level faculty who are making a difference in their fields of expertise while promoting the U of A’s goal of becoming a top public research university.”

“Adding to this fund was the logical next step for us,” said Robert Connor. “It will provide even more support for promising new faculty members and amplify the impact of our original gift.”

An additional $25,000 gift from the Connors will also benefit the Sandra and Robert Connor Access Arkansas Scholarship, which was created in 2010. Access Arkansas, a university initiative committed to raising money for need-based scholarship support – particularly for undergraduates – was launched in 2007. In 2009, the Pat and Willard Walker Foundation created a one-third matching gift for every dollar committed starting at $50,000.

Sandra Connor holds a bachelor of arts from Fulbright College. She and her husband serve in leadership roles on the Campaign Arkansas Steering Committee and are recognized in the Towers of Old Main, a society that honors the university’s most generous benefactors.


Jennifer Holland, director of development communications
University Relations


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