UA hires Mike Malone for economic development role

by Paul Gatling ([email protected]) 2,275 views 

The University of Arkansas announced Monday (April 4) that Mike Malone is the school’s new vice chancellor for economic development.

Malone is vice president of community and corporate affairs for Runway Group, a private business team in Bentonville led by Steuart Walton and his younger brother, Tom Walton. They are grandsons of Walmart founder Sam Walton and the sons of Jim Walton, chairman and CEO of Arvest Bank Group Inc.

Runway Group is a holding company that makes strategic investments in real estate, hospitality, cycling and aviation.

Malone will begin his new job on April 18. He replaces Stacy Leeds, who stepped down from the position in July 2020. David Snow, director of Technology Ventures at the UA, held the job on an interim basis.

“We are very excited to welcome Mike to the University of Arkansas,” UA interim chancellor Charles Robinson said in a statement. “Our ambition is to expand economic opportunity and prosperity in Arkansas through talent development, the deployment of innovative research and technologies, community engagement and place-making strategies – and to be the first choice for industry partnerships and collaborations. Mike has been a great partner and supporter of the U of A for many years, and he brings a wealth of experience and the drive and ability to make the Division of Economic Development a force for Arkansas’ greater good.”

Malone joined Runway Group in 2016. Before that, he spent a decade as president and CEO of the Northwest Arkansas Council, leading the creation and implementation of regional growth and development strategies that resulted in significant employment gains, economic growth and improved quality of life in Northwest Arkansas.

Before his work in Arkansas, Malone held senior staff leadership positions in the White House, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the U.S. Senate, and the House of Representatives. He currently sits on the boards of directors of Heartland Forward and the Greater Bentonville Area Chamber of Commerce and is a member of the board of trustees of Hendrix College. Malone holds a master of arts degree in public affairs from the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota. He is a cum laude graduate of Hendrix College with a bachelor of arts degree with distinction in political science.

“I’m honored and excited for the opportunity to serve as the vice chancellor for economic development at the University of Arkansas,” Malone said. “While the UofA already has a large economic impact on our state today, emerging opportunities like the establishment of the I³R, enhanced support for startups and entrepreneurs, and growing partnerships with businesses and communities have us poised to see our economic impact grow considerably in just the next few years.”

The UA’s economic development division directs and coordinates campus-wide efforts to expand economic opportunities and improve the quality of life in Arkansas and beyond. Malone will be responsible for assessing, increasing and communicating the university’s economic and social impacts and building on its $2.2 billion annual impact on the state’s economy.

Units reporting to the vice chancellor for economic development include the Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, the Office of Industry and Community Engagement, Technology Ventures, the World Trade Center Arkansas, and the Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center at the University of Arkansas.

“No one I know advocates for our state more effectively than Mike Malone, and he is an excellent choice to lead the University of Arkansas’ bold vision to expand economic opportunity for all,” said Steuart Walton, who is chair of Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s Arkansas Economic Recovery Task Force. “Mike’s impressive career has given him a breadth of experience that will no doubt strengthen relationships, energize new partnerships, and catalyze entrepreneurship and innovation that puts Arkansas at the top of the list for business and talent attraction.”

A member of the chancellor’s executive team, the vice chancellor for economic development is responsible for significant progress toward campus goals of commercializing faculty and student research, catalyzing entrepreneurship and innovation on campus and in the region and establishing the University as the premier partner in providing timely and relevant education and skills to the Arkansas workforce. In addition, the office collaborates with departments and schools across campus to amplify the university’s service to and economic impact on Arkansas.

Malone also will share oversight of the Institute for Integrative and Innovative Research (I³R) with John English, vice chancellor for research and innovation, and Ranu Jung, executive director of the Institute. I³R is bringing change-makers and thought-leaders together, collaborating with commercial, philanthropic, nonprofit and governmental organizations to deliver positive societal impact. The Institute was established through a landmark $194.7 million grant from the Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation, an investment that followed a $23.7 million grant from the foundation to augment the university’s research and economic development infrastructure.

David Snow will continue to lead technology commercialization efforts at the UA. Snow also serves as president of the nonprofit University of Arkansas Technology Development Foundation (UATDF).