Burnett Gift Fosters Faculty Excellence in Data Science With Endowed Award

Kent Burnett
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Kent Burnett

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – University of Arkansas alumnus Kent Burnett of Greenbrier believes that attracting the best faculty helps attract the brightest students. His $250,000 commitment to the G. Kent and Deborah D. Burnett Endowed Faculty Excellence Award in Data Science will recognize outstanding faculty in the College of Engineering and count toward Campaign Arkansas, the $1.25 billion capital campaign to advance academic opportunity at the U of A.

“I love the University of Arkansas, particularly the engineering college,” Burnett said. “We can compete with anyone in the world in analytics and big data, and I’m excited about the opportunities there. Corporations have a need for more and better data, as well as people who can use the software. The U of A can be competitive in this area.”

The G. Kent and Deborah D. Burnett Endowed Faculty Excellence Award in Data Science will recognize a highly qualified faculty member for their exceptional work. The chosen faculty member may utilize the award funding to enhance student support and teaching and research in data science while advancing the mission of the data science program.

“This award should be an incentive to faculty and provide the unique opportunity to attract new faculty to the program,” Burnett said. “When you get the best faculty, they’ll attract the brightest students.”

“We’re deeply appreciative to Kent for his investment in our data science program during this crucial time in the program’s history,” said John English, dean of the College of Engineering. “Big data and data analytics are shaping the future in a wide variety of industries, and thanks to his support we can ensure we’re attracting and retaining high-level faculty to prepare our students for success in a fast-changing world.”

Burnett grew up in Mena, Arkansas, and graduated from the College of Engineering with a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering. He spent most of his career working for Dillard’s Inc. – primarily as their chief information officer – and built the company’s e-commerce business before retiring in 2016. At the university, he is a member of the College of Engineering Dean’s Advisory Council, the Arkansas Academy of Industrial Engineering and the Arkansas Academy of Computing.

Kent Burnett and his wife are life members of the Arkansas Alumni Association and are included in the Towers of Old Main, a giving society for the university’s most generous benefactors. They are also counted as Thoroughreds for their 10 years of consecutive giving to the U of A. Their previous gifts have supported the Arkansas Academy of Industrial Engineering Endowed Graduate Scholarship, the Arkansas Academy of Industrial Engineers Scholarship Fund, the Chancellor’s Society and summer programs in the College of Engineering.

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 fewer than 3% of colleges and 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
479-575-7346, jholland@uark.edu


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