Garrison Financial Institute to Benefit From $100,000 Campaign Arkansas Gift

Robert Zeiler
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Robert Zeiler

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – University of Arkansas alumnus Robert Zeiler of Little Rock has pledged $100,000 through a planned gift to the Garrison Financial Institute in the Sam M. Walton College of Business. Zeiler’s gift counts toward Campaign Arkansas, the university’s $1.25 billion capital campaign.

Zeiler’s gift will support students of the Walton College and Graduate School of Business who are involved in the applied portfolio management classes. Students in these classes make recommendations for trades under the direction of the Garrison Financial Institute’s managing directors and obtain approval by the chair of the Department of Finance. Funds may also be used for student travel.

“Robert has been a key industry representative in the creation of the Walton College’s energy finance concentration at the undergraduate and graduate levels, where students learn to apply finance theory to all facets of the energy industry,” said Craig Rennie, who is associate professor of finance, managing director of the Garrison Financial Institute and Brewer Professor of Financial Markets.

Zeiler grew up in Fort Smith and Conway and earned a degree in mechanical engineering from Christian Brothers University in Memphis. After working for several years for Andersen Consulting and selling a company he formed, which specialized in horizontal directional drilling, Zeiler enrolled in the Walton College’s M.B.A. program and completed his degree in 2008. During this time, he became acquainted with finance professors Craig Rennie, Wayne Lee and Daniel Pu Liu, who worked with students in the college’s portfolio management classes. Zeiler participated in the management of the Shollmier Fund as a graduate student and also traveled abroad to China with the Walton College in 2007.

Zeiler was invited to join the board for the Garrison Financial Institute in 2008 and says he enjoys the relationships and camaraderie of the board. The group allocates time at each meeting to helping students learn how the markets work and offering valuable advice from the field.

“I had a great experience at the U of A, and I wanted to give back,” he said.

The Garrison Financial Institute was created thanks to a $2 million gift from the Garrison family and a $2 million match from the Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation. Both gifts combined to form the $4 million endowment for the Garrison Chair in Finance, which supports investment research and funds the Garrison Financial Institute.

The mission of the Garrison Financial Institute is to enhance student learning through experience, foster research that extends and perfects best practices and contributes to the economic development of the state of Arkansas and the welfare of its citizens.

Zeiler is a business development manager for New Prospect Company in Fort Smith and previously worked for Chesapeake Energy. Most of his career in the energy industry has focused on government relations, corporate development and consulting work for upstream oil and gas companies. He is also a life member of the Arkansas Alumni Association.

About Campaign Arkansas: Campaign Arkansas is the ongoing capital campaign for the University of Arkansas to raise private gift support for the university’s academic mission and other key priorities. The campaign’s goal is to raise $1.25 billion to support academic and need-based scholarships, technology enhancements, new and renovated facilities, undergraduate, graduate and faculty research, study abroad opportunities and other innovative programs. The University of Arkansas provides an internationally competitive education for undergraduate and graduate students in a wide spectrum of disciplines as it works to fulfill its public land-grant mission to serve Arkansas and beyond as a partner, resource and catalyst.

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.


Jennifer Holland, director of development communications
University Relations


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