Fletchers Fuel Entrepreneurial Spirit With Creation of S.A.K.E. Fund

Entrepreneur in Residence Carolyn Rodeffer and Ali Sadeghi-Jourabchi, an advisor for the S.A.K.E. class, with their students.
Photo by Matt Reynolds

Entrepreneur in Residence Carolyn Rodeffer and Ali Sadeghi-Jourabchi, an advisor for the S.A.K.E. class, with their students.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – University of Arkansas alumnus Frank Fletcher and his wife, Judy, are providing $600,000 to establish the Frank and Judy Fletcher S.A.K.E. Fund in the Sam M. Walton College of Business. S.A.K.E. is an abbreviation for the entrepreneurial course known as Students Acquiring Knowledge through Enterprise.

Frank Fletcher grew up in Tamo, Arkansas, and spent his formative years in the Grady school system. He eventually transferred to Pine Bluff, where he graduated from high school and met his wife – Judy Hamm.

Fletcher has great memories from his time at the University of Arkansas, where he majored in business and lived in the Kappa Sigma house for four years. He remembers his father selling his high school car as an incentive for him to make the dean’s list and earn another car, which he did. He also recalls his father telling him that if he didn’t graduate within four years, he would have to return to driving a John Deere tractor in his future.

Fletcher notes that was enough incentive for him to finish on schedule; he completed his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration in 1963.

“S.A.K.E. is important to the continued success of the Walton College’s entrepreneurship initiative, which is one of the most important strategic pillars of the college,” said Matt Waller, interim dean of the Walton College. “We are grateful to Frank and Judy Fletcher for their practical support of Walton College students through this gift. The leadership team of the Walton College is committed to the success of S.A.K.E., entrepreneurship and innovation in the education of our students.”

S.A.K.E. operates as an entrepreneurial practicum course. The Walton College course allows students to participate in the accounting, marketing and sales, customer service and operations of ForeverRed, which provides unique and personalized products to commemorate the Razorback experience at the U of A. Using support from benefactors such as the Fletchers and profits from the business, S.A.K.E. students have been able to travel to China, Tunisia, Costa Rica and Belize. The unique class has received two national awards for innovation in entrepreneurship teaching.

“I think Carol Reeves is the most interesting teacher I have ever come in contact with,” Fletcher said. “She loves to really prepare her students for the real business world and uses more than just a typical book and lecture style. We both like to give up and coming entrepreneurs a taste of the real world and the actual challenges they will face. Dr. Reeves is like no other person I have ever met, because she understands that books and routine college courses sometimes lack the day-to-day lessons of how to be successful in today’s business climate.”

Entrepreneurial teams coached by Reeves, Walton College professor of management and the university’s associate vice provost for entrepreneurship, have compiled an unprecedented record over the past few years in academic competitions and in creating new businesses and jobs in Arkansas. 

The Frank and Judy Fletcher S.A.K.E. Fund will provide support to create a new class – S.A.K.E. Innovations – and to allow professional management of ForeverRed. An entrepreneur-in-residence, Carolyn Rodeffer, was hired to provide stable oversight of the existing S.A.K.E. class and the S.A.K.E. Innovations class.

The fund will also support expenses related to new product development for the class; professional support in accounting and technical enablement, such as website design and maintenance; and student internships, particularly in start-up businesses.

“Judy and I want S.A.K.E. to grow and expand in many ways,” Fletcher said. “We want more students to have the chance to experience ‘real business’ while they’re in college. We know that financial support is necessary to acquire the extra leaders the class needs and the continuity the class must have. We want to encourage the future deans and college leaders to see the excitement of how this unique class can grow and become an important part of the business school. And we look forward to our future family heirs keeping this going with continued support for as long as it’s needed.”

About the Sam M. Walton College of Business: The Sam M. Walton College of Business is a nationally and internationally recognized leader in business education and research. Since its founding at the University of Arkansas in 1926, the Walton College has grown to become the state's premier college of business – as well as a nationally competitive business school. The Walton College is ranked 27th among public business colleges by U.S. News & World Report, which ranks the supply chain management/logistics specialty 13th among public business colleges.

About the University of Arkansas: The University of Arkansas provides an internationally competitive education for undergraduate and graduate students in more than 200 academic programs. The university contributes new knowledge, economic development, basic and applied research, and creative activity while also providing service to academic and professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the University of Arkansas among only 2 percent of universities in America that have the highest level of research activity. U.S. News & World Report ranks the University of Arkansas among its top American public research universities. Founded in 1871, the University of Arkansas comprises 10 colleges and schools and maintains a low student-to-faculty ratio that promotes personal attention and close mentoring.

Contacts

Jennifer Holland, director of development communications
University Relations
479-575-7346, jholland@uark.edu

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