Simpson Gifts Spark Synergies in Supply Chain and Promote Gender Diversity
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – University of Arkansas alumni David and Shelley Simpson are contributing $175,000 toward the creation of a new supply chain student organization and symposium in hope of bringing awareness to the lack of gender diversity in the field.
The Rogers couple wants to help make the U of A a leader in addressing the area of gender diversity in the field of supply chain management. Their gift was counted in Campaign Arkansas, the recently concluded capital campaign that raised nearly $1.45 billion to advance academic opportunity at the U of A.
“This generous gift from Shelley and David will allow us to bring focus to the need to make sure that supply chain management is a field in business that promises opportunity for everyone,” said Matt Waller, dean of the Sam M. Walton College of Business and the Sam M. Walton Leadership Chair in Business. “We need the study and practice of supply chain to be as inclusive and diverse as possible, with a much better gender balance, and careers in the field to be open and welcoming to all. This gift allows us to better make that happen.”
Shelley Simpson, who is originally from Russellville, said attending the University of Arkansas was a dream for her as a first-generation college student. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with an emphasis in marketing from the Walton College, and she started working for J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc. as an hourly employee two weeks after she graduated.
Twenty-six years later, Simpson is the executive vice president, chief commercial officer and president of highway services.
She became acquainted with Women Impacting Supply Chain Excellence (WISE), a student group at the Walton College, through her work with Growing and Retaining Outstanding Women at J.B. Hunt. WISE increases awareness and interest in logistics and supply chain management through programming, mentoring, networking and other special events.
Simpson felt compelled to establish an endowment for the group, so she and her husband are contributing $75,000 to empower students to learn and excel in all areas of the supply chain field. Endowment earnings will support several facets of WISE, including guest speaker honoraria, travel to conferences, networking events and marketing.
“An important part of my job is my obligation to help everyone learn how to connect while offering a female perspective,” Shelley Simpson said. “I also believe in helping other women. With an endowment, this becomes more than just a project or trial. It will help the group for years to come.”
Adding to this support, the Simpsons are sponsoring the “WISE Future Leaders Symposium, Sponsored by Shelley Simpson of J. B. Hunt” with a $100,000 gift. The symposium will convene male and female undergraduate students from across the United States with academic and business communities to study issues surrounding the lack of gender diversity in both supply chain university programs and professional supply chain industry roles. Participating students will be introduced to the network of supply chain executives in Northwest Arkansas, while also showcasing the job availability, quality of living, recreation and culture of the region.
“The gift from the Simpsons is truly transformational, and students will benefit from both gifts for years to come,” said Stephanie Thomas, clinical assistant professor of supply chain management and faculty adviser for WISE. “Having an endowment for WISE provides consistent funding that can be used for long-term planning for professional development opportunities for members. Many student organizations have to be managed semester to semester with limited resources.
“I am also extremely excited about adding the Shelley Simpson name as a sponsor to the WISE Future Leaders Symposium,” Thomas said. “As I have witnessed on multiple occasions, Shelley has a very relatable, yet inspiring, story. Through the symposium, her story is going to travel far beyond Northwest Arkansas, and many young supply chain women are going to dream a little bigger because they had the opportunity to meet and learn from her.”
The Simpsons are members of the Chancellor’s Society at the U of A, and Shelley Simpson is a member of the Walton College’s Dean’s Executive Advisory Board.
“You need passion and energy to get an idea off the ground in the right way,” Shelley Simpson said. “The leadership in the Sam M. Walton College of Business gives me the confidence that this will happen.”
About Campaign Arkansas: Campaign Arkansas is the recently concluded capital campaign for the University of Arkansas that raised a record $1.449 billion to support the university’s academic mission and other key priorities, including 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.
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