1. The University of Arkansas received a $300 million gift from the Walton Family Foundation of Bentonville. Of that amount, $200 million will to go establish a new honors college and $100 million will go to the existing Graduate School.
2. UA Basketball Coach Nolan Richardson embarrassed himself and the state with unsubstantiated accusations of racism at the institution. He was being paid $1.03 million at the time of his meltdown and subsequent firing.
3. With sales of $218 billion, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. passed Exxon-Mobile Corp. as the largest corporation in the world in terms of gross sales.
4. After divorcing his wife and marrying a staffer, Tim Hutchinson was defeated in his reelection bid for the U.S. Senate. Attorney General Mark Pryor will take Hutchinson’s seat in the Senate.
5. Arvest Bank Group Inc. in March collapsed 14 bank charters into that held by Arvest-Fayetteville, formerly McIlroy Bank & Trust Co, creating the second largest bank in the state. The charter is the oldest in Arkansas.
6. A state Supreme Court affirmation of a lower court ruling declared Arkansas’ system for funding public education to be “unconstitutional and constitutionally inadequate and inequitable.” Legislators have 13 months to fix the problems, and observers say the decision could require the state to raise hundreds of millions of dollars in additional education funding each year.
7. Despite a strong rebound in the trucking industry, Cannon Express Inc. recorded its second net loss in three years and Dean Cannon, it’s founder and president, resigned.
8. Golf Entertainment Inc., a Springdale penny stock, was ordered by the Arkansas Securities Department to stop trading its stock in Arkansas after the company apparently violated Securities & Exchange Commission rules. Golf executives have also so far escaped prosecution by authorities despite a year’s worth of public company scandals that dominated the year’s headlines.
9. After years of whining, the residents of Fayetteville finally got an Olive Garden restaurant in December. Darden Restaurants Inc. of Orlando, Fla., said it had received more requests for an Olive Garden in Fayetteville than any other city.
10. Bikes, Blues & Barbecue, in just its third year of existence, brought about 16,000 motorcycles and more than 60,000 spectators to Fayetteville for its three-day event in October. The event also raised $50,000 for Council on Aging.