Connor gifts $1.5 Million to retain top faculty in Fulbright College

by The City Wire staff ( 12 views 

Robert and Sandra Connor of Little Rock and Dallas have made a $1.5 million pledge to extend the Robert C. and Sandra Connor Endowed Faculty Fellowship at the University of Arkansas.

Their contribution will benefit full-time junior-level faculty in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences and will be used to support their teaching, research, service and career development.

“Bob and Sandra are two of our most engaged volunteers and are excellent ambassadors of the University of Arkansas,” said Chancellor G. David Gearhart. “This gift will make a significant impact on our faculty recruitment and retention efforts – key measures supporting our goal of becoming nationally recognized as a top 50 public research university.”

Fulbright College Dean Todd Shields recognized the significance of the gift and the impact it makes on the college noting that in the past decade the college has made big strides in faculty recruitment.

"With this gift, the Connors provide us with an invaluable resource to retain faculty members who are setting new standards of teaching, research and service at the University of Arkansas. We are extremely grateful for their generosity, which will allow us to further enhance one of Fulbright College’s most prestigious faculty fellowship programs," he said.

The Connor Faculty Fellowship Fund was originally established by the couple in 2004 to provide essential faculty development opportunities to rising academic experts in the college by supporting research initiatives, travel opportunities and in-classroom programs. Annually, a college committee including the dean names 10 Connor Faculty Fellows. All awardees are assistant professors who have made significant contributions to the college and their own departments. 

Since its inception, the Connor Faculty Fellowship endowment has enabled Fulbright College to recognize more than 75 Connor Fellows, many of whom are now leaders in their departments, serving in administrative capacities or in prominent teaching and research positions with impressive publication records. 

“We were delighted with the success of the original endowment and the impact the faculty fellows have made to Fulbright College,” said Sandra Conner. “It is inspiring to us to support junior-level faculty who are making a difference in their fields of expertise while promoting the U of A’s goal of becoming a top public research university.”

Robert Conner said adding to this fund was the logical next step for the couple.

“It will provide even more support for promising new faculty members and amplify the impact of our original gift,” he said.

Sandra Connor holds a bachelor’s degree from Fulbright College. She and her husband serve in leadership roles on the Campaign Arkansas Steering Committee and are recognized in the Towers of Old Main, a society that honors the university’s most generous benefactors.