The Northwest Arkansas Council announced Wednesday (July 12) that University of Arkansas Chancellor Joseph E. Steinmetz has taken over as the nonprofit’s presiding co-chair for the upcoming year. The announcement was made at the organization’s annual meeting Wednesday in Bentonville.
Steinmetz became a member of the Council’s executive committee shortly after becoming chancellor in early 2016.
“I’m looking forward to my term as presiding co-chair of the Northwest Arkansas Council,” Steinmetz said in a news release. “Higher education has a role in the vibrancy and vitality of a region. In addition to providing education, research and outreach, colleges and universities also contribute to the cultural amenities, intellectual capital, talent and workforce development that are great for business and great for life. My plan is to encourage ways in which the community can collaborate with higher education for mutual benefit.
“All the ingredients for success are right here in Northwest Arkansas and the opportunity to work alongside such impassioned leaders across industry sectors is invigorating.”
Steinmetz, according to the release, is the third UA chancellor to lead the Council as chairman. He takes over for former Tyson Foods President and CEO Donnie Smith as presiding co-chair. The chancellors who led the Council in previous years were John A. White and David Gearhart.
Alice Walton led the Council, which was founded in 1990, in its formative years. U.S. Rep. John Paul Hammerschmidt, who retired as a member of Congress in 1993, took over the chairman’s role that same year. He served until 2006.
The Council shifted to the presiding co-chair system that same year, inviting Northwest Arkansas leaders to take turns heading the organization in one-year stints. Previous presiding co-chairs were John Tyson, Lee Scott, Kirk Thompson, Mark Simmons, Rosalind Brewer and Jim Walton.
Last month, the Council also announced a new president and CEO, with the hiring of Arkansas native Nelson Peacock.