Donaubauer Gift Reflects Impact of Relationships Formed at U of A

Janice and Allyn Donaubauer
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Janice and Allyn Donaubauer

Alumni Allyn and Janice Donaubauer have gifted $100,000 to the University of Arkansas to create the Donaubauer Family Endowed Scholarship in the Sam M. Walton College of Business.

For Allyn Donaubauer, the gift feels like his experience at the university has come full circle. He credits the relationships he made at the university for paving the way to a successful career. The encouragement, insightfulness and mentorship he received from professors, classmates and industry contacts created a lasting impact on his life, and he wants to ensure that same type of impact is a reality for the next generation of students.

Allyn received his bachelor’s degree from Walton College in 1979 and his master’s degree in 1980. Janice graduated with a bachelor’s degree in psychology in 1983.

“We are deeply grateful to Allyn and Janice Donaubauer for establishing their family scholarship to support first-generation students from Arkansas,” said Scott Varady, vice chancellor for university advancement. “Their generosity and mentorship are testaments to the impact of the student experience and how the relationships formed at the university make all the difference in a student’s life.”

In addition to their gift, the Donaubauers and staff at their wealth management firm, The Donaubauer Group, have taken every opportunity to speak to, mentor, provide internships for, and introduce the professional finance world to current students.

“We are grateful to the Donaubauers for this incredible gift,” said Chancellor Charles Robinson. “Their success speaks, in part, to the lifelong impact that a university degree can make, and their endowed scholarship will allow many first-generation students from Arkansas to experience the transformational opportunities that come with earning a degree from one of the nation’s top business schools.”

Allyn Donaubauer grew up in Fayetteville. His father, E.H. “Al” Donaubauer, was one of the first directors of development at the university. Sam M. Walton, founder of Walmart Stores Inc., would often visit the Donaubauer house to discuss funding opportunities for the university. The Donaubauer children were primarily interested in getting a glimpse of Walton’s dogs and his Ford F150 pickup truck during these visits. Al was passionate about raising funds for the university, and through his father’s position, Allyn was immersed in both the U of A community and the world of finance.

Donaubauer began his college career pursuing a degree in accounting but found little enjoyment in the subject matter. Having grown up in Fayetteville and around campus, he knew many U of A professors personally.

He spent summers mowing their yards or interacting with them at gatherings at his family’s home. His professors knew him well enough to notice his interest in accounting was waning. One professor asked if he had considered pursuing finance instead, noting there was a significant need for finance and banking professionals. That suggestion changed Donaubauer’s life. He changed his major to finance and banking and after completing a bachelor’s degree, began pursuing a master’s degree in business administration.

The master’s program was thrilling to Donaubauer. Outside companies and industry professionals would approach the program with real-life issues that students worked to solve, which made him excited to start his career. During this time, a former classmate of Donaubauer’s and Razorback baseball player, Mark Sutton (B.S.B.A.’77), connected him with Merrill Lynch, an investment management company. In April 1980, he began working at the company’s Fort Smith office; he stayed there 34 years. 

In 2014, he started The Donaubauer Group, a firm of Raymond James & Associates investment bank and financial services. In addition to his role as founder, Allyn is the senior vice president of investments and the managing director of the company. Janice serves as the senior financial planning consultant. Her experience in psychology guides her team in understanding how finances affect all aspects of an individual’s life and how deeply emotional financial planning can be for their clients. The Donaubauer Group has offices in Fayetteville, Rogers and Fort Smith and clients in 18 states and across multiple continents.

The most meaningful part of Allyn’s career, he said, has been the relationships he's made. After more than 40 years in the industry, most of his current clients are the children or grandchildren of his original clients. He says relationships are key because they build trust, which is especially important in wealth management services.

“We call ourselves ‘the star aligners’,” Donaubauer said. “We know our clients have a goal to get somewhere, and we make the stars align between today and when we want to get there. It's enjoyable to see those people get to their goals.”

The Donaubauers hope their gift opens doors for Walton College students and helps take away some financial burdens. Allyn encourages students to pursue what they enjoy, to take advantage of all networking opportunities, and to trust the expertise of their professors. “I had great leadership,” Donaubauer said. “I hope the staff and professors realize the impact they’re providing.”

About University Advancement: University Advancement advances the mission of the University of Arkansas by raising private gift support from alumni, friends, parents, foundations, corporations, and other institutional supporters. Working in philanthropic partnership with academic leaders and volunteers, Advancement team members are determined to advance the people, work, and impact of the greater whole at the University of Arkansas.

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 few 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 and Economic Development News.

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