The Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas will use a $500,000 gift from UA alumni Kelly and Steve Barnes to create the Kelly and Steve Barnes Health and Wellbeing Innovation Fund. The fund will promote collaborations between healthcare and business.
On Wednesday (Aug. 8), the UA announced the gift from Kelly and Steve Barnes of Dallas. They are Hot Springs natives and have spent their careers in the healthcare industry.
“This generous gift from Kelly and Steve Barnes means Walton College students will work on innovative solutions to improve health and well-being for the people of Arkansas and the nation,” said Matt Waller, dean for the college and Sam M. Walton Leadership Chair. “It is the generosity of benefactors such as Kelly and Steve that will produce fresh ideas for health and well-being and create new avenues of collaboration among a range of disciplines.”
Kelly Barnes is the global and U.S. health industries leader at PricewaterhouseCoopers and has worked for the company for more than 30 years. She serves on the Dean’s Executive Advisory Board for the Walton College and is a member of the Women’s Giving Circle. Steve Barnes has worked as a registered nurse for Parkland Hospital for more than 20 years.
The two met in their first semester at the UA.
“I’ve been successful because of my education at the University of Arkansas, and I want to pay that forward,” Kelly Barnes said. “I come from a family of educators, and I see the challenges of healthcare in the state of Arkansas.”
The Kelly and Steve Barnes Health and Wellbeing Innovation Fund will lead students to create multidisciplinary design teams. The teams will focus on developing new models of delivery, services, products and policies in the health and wellness industry. An advisory council of experts, startups and industry will develop key priorities to guide the teams.
“Access to healthcare is so important,” said Steve Barnes. “If you have the education, tools and access to care, you can be healthy.”
“As healthcare evolves, there’s a missing element of engaging patients as consumers,” Kelly Barnes said. “It will take a melding of business knowledge and clinical knowledge to affect changes in health and well-being and to spark innovation.”
“There’s a great opportunity to connect the Walton College and College of Engineering at the University of Arkansas with the state’s medical school,” she added. “These student collaborations can help us find ways to provide better healthcare to rural communities and the state as a whole.”
In 2005, Kelly and Steve Barnes created an endowed doctoral fellowship in the Walton College.