Kaneaster and Lindley Hodges Honored Through New Fellowship Award

Kaneaster Hodges and Chancellor Joe Steinmetz at a Campaign Arkansas Steering Committee meeting in 2017.
Photo by University Relations

Kaneaster Hodges and Chancellor Joe Steinmetz at a Campaign Arkansas Steering Committee meeting in 2017.

A new endowment will support doctoral students at the U of A. The Kaneaster and Ruth Lindley Hodges Entrepreneurial Fellowship Award will offer a stipend level that is competitive with the most prestigious fellowships available to graduate students and enhance the work as part of the Graduate Entrepreneurial Fellows Program.

The endowment is supported by an $825,000 gift from the Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation.

“This gift from the Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation is a fitting tribute to Kaneaster’s involvement with the foundation and his family’s support of the University of Arkansas,” said Chancellor Joe Steinmetz. “The pioneering work being done in our Graduate Entrepreneurial Fellows Program is both exciting and inspiring, and it’s only just begun. Our students have the ability to make a positive impact on the economic development of our region and state, and providing them with the funding needed to focus on their entrepreneurial pursuits will help tremendously. Having the Hodges name associated with this prestigious award amplifies their family’s commitment to higher education and acknowledges their service to the state and the university over the years.”

"Kaneaster and Lindley are vibrant and engaging Arkansans who have made a difference in our state, our country and my family," Rob Walton said. "Our connections go back decades to our time in Newport, Arkansas. We recognize and appreciate their service both in the state and in the U.S. Senate. Beyond their commitment to service, we are grateful for their role as friends and advisers to our family."

Recipients of the new fellowship award will be chosen from the Graduate Entrepreneurial Fellows Program, established in 2020, with additional investments from the Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation.

The program intends to support 12 to 15 exceptional graduate students each year to pursue intensive entrepreneurship training. These students work toward the incubation-like Graduate Certificate in Entrepreneurship and collaborate on interdisciplinary teams to develop and validate business ideas to benefit a community of seasoned mentors, secure seed funding and compete in a range of international student business-plan and start-up competitions.

Since 2002, students in the U of A’s New Venture Development courses at the heart of the Graduate Certificate in Entrepreneurship have won more than $3 million in prizes and raised more than $60 million to build their businesses. The program counts more than 40 start-up companies and organizations founded by its alumni.

The existing program provides a graduate assistantship and an $8,000 to $12,000 fellowship to qualified students, so they may dedicate most of their time to work on their business during the certificate program. The Kaneaster and Ruth Lindley Hodges Entrepreneurial Fellowship Award will provide an additional $10,000 stipend to three exceptionally qualified doctoral students per year. These students will receive the designation of Kaneaster and Ruth Lindley Hodges Entrepreneurial Fellows and will be honored through an end-of-program celebration, including their faculty advisers and the mentor community.

Sarah Goforth, executive director for the Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, said, “If universities are engines of discovery, graduate students are the fuel. The Kaneaster and Ruth Lindley Hodges Entrepreneurial Fellowship Award will support exceptional Ph.D. students in the pursuit of deep entrepreneurial training, allowing them to bridge their academic research with the problems they care about in society and industry.”

A native of Newport, Kaneaster Hodges Jr. is a former U.S. senator and president and board member of the Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation, and he is an alumnus of the U of A School of Law. He has served on the Pryor Center Advisory Board, the university’s Board of Advisors, the Campaign for the Twenty-First Century Steering Committee and the Campaign Arkansas Steering Committee. He was named Volunteer of the Year in 1991 by the university and was a U of A Trustee.

Ruth Lindley Hodges is a graduate of the College of Education and Health Professions and holds a bachelor of science in education. She and her husband are lifetime members of the Arkansas Alumni Association and included in the Towers of Old Main, a giving society for the university’s most generous benefactors.

In 2005, the University Libraries dedicated the Lindley and Kaneaster Hodges Jr. Reading Room in Mullins Library, with the support of a gift from Pat and John A. Cooper Jr. of Bella Vista. The naming recognizes Hodges’ service to the state of Arkansas and the U of A.

About the University of Arkansas: As Arkansas' flagship institution, the U of A provides an internationally competitive education in more than 200 academic programs. Founded in 1871, the U of A contributes more than $2.2 billion to Arkansas’ economy through the teaching of new knowledge and skills, entrepreneurship and job development, discovery through research and creative activity while also providing training for professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the U of A among the top 3% of U.S. colleges and universities with the highest level of research activity. U.S. News & World Report ranks the U of A among the top public universities in the nation. See how the U of A works to build a better world at Arkansas Research News.

About the Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation: Established in 1987, the Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation supports education initiatives and community initiatives in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas.

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