John Brown University announced this week that the College of Business has been renamed in honor of former Walmart executive Don Soderquist. The university also announced a new $2 million endowment for the Donald G. Soderquist College of Business, which includes a $1 million gift from the Soderquist Family Foundation and a $1 million matching gift by an anonymous donor.
The $1 million gift and $1 million match will help support endowed professor positions in key disciplines such as international business, accounting and economics, to assist the college in recruiting, retaining and developing top business faculty. Additionally, the endowment will support faculty scholarship grants for the professional development of newer faculty in the Donald G. Soderquist College of Business.
The anonymous match is part of the $10 Million Endowment Match program. Created in January by an anonymous donor, the program encourages endowment growth for scholarships, programs and endowed chairs.
“Don Soderquist is known as a wise business leader who cares deeply for the growth and development of people because of his values, particularly his commitments as a Christian. JBU’s College of Business aspires to graduate business students whose lives will follow a similar trajectory of servant leadership,” said Dr. Chip Pollard, JBU president. “Naming the college in appreciation of Don’s longtime support of JBU not only honors the gift of the Soderquist Foundation, but it also offers our business graduates a model to follow. We are deeply grateful to Don for all that he has done for JBU.”
Soderquist spent more than 20 years as a leader at Walmart and became known as “the keeper of the culture” after the passing of Walmart founder Sam Walton. Soderquist served as chief operating officer and senior vice chairman during a period of exponential growth for Walmart, as the company became the largest in the world with sales of more than $200 billion.
“I have seen the JBU College of Business produce outstanding graduates who are sought after by leading business firms throughout the region. Our hope is that the JBU College of Business will continue that path towards excellence so that its students will compete with students from the best business schools around the nation,” said Soderquist. “My family is honored to be able to participate and support the training of the next generation of ethical leadership for the business world.”
Soderquist served on the JBU board of trustees from 1982 until 2009, and served as the board’s chairman from 1991 until 2002. He is currently trustee emeriti. He was inducted into the Arkansas Business Hall of Fame in 2010. He is the founding executive of the Soderquist Center for Leadership and Ethics at John Brown University.