J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc. announced (Aug. 11) a collaboration with the Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas that includes the Lowell-based carrier giving $1.5 million to its supply chain department and renaming it after the company.
According to a news release, the two entities are working together to make “Northwest Arkansas an epicenter for developing tomorrow’s industry and its leaders.” The money will be used to enhance the UA’s supply chain department, which has been renamed the J.B. Hunt Transport Department of Supply Chain Management.
In a Thursday event at the company’s headquarters, J.B. Hunt and UA leaders noted the company is the first to name a supply chain department and emphasized that Gartner recently ranked it No. 1 in North America. The department’s graduate program is ranked No. 2.
“J.B. Hunt and the University of Arkansas are shaping the future of supply chain, not just in Northwest Arkansas but across the country,” said Shelley Simpson, president of J.B. Hunt. “Together, we are preparing future leaders who will grow with the industry to meet evolving supply chain challenges. This will help us achieve our mission of creating the most efficient transportation network in North America, and ultimately the world.”
Asked about the company’s goals over the next three to five years for the collaboration, Simpson highlighted its goals in inclusion, sustainability and the supply chain. She also noted the UA helped the company on its technology platform J.B. Hunt 360.
“We’ll continue to work from that perspective. But it’s also going to be living and breathing, so it’s not just a naming one time,” she said. “We’re going to think about how we can work more closely together moving forward.”
Since 2017, J.B. Hunt has given $7 million to the UA to support supply chain-focused initiatives, with $5 million of that dedicated to the UA’s supply chain program. With a long-term goal of shaping the future of integrated supply chain management, the UA and J.B. Hunt are focused on ensuring the industry has a modern workforce that can grow the industry and face supply chain challenges, blending logistics expertise with advancing technology, according to the release.
“Walton College aims to be the leader in supply chain management education, research and career readiness,” said Matt Waller, dean of the Walton College and holder of the Sam M. Walton Leadership Chair in Business. “A gift of this magnitude from one of the global leaders in logistics can expand our reach to talented students, expert faculty and industry thought leaders. Together, we can advance the industry’s positive growth and practice.”
Simpson said J.B. Hunt is the No. 1 employer in the supply chain management department and No. 2 in the Walton College. The company has about 37,000 employees. Waller said the department was established in July 2011 without any money. The graduate program started two years ago and has 70 students enrolled in it, he said.
J.B. Hunt and Walton College have worked together over the past decade. In 2014, they collaborated to start the J.B. Hunt Supply Chain University. In 2017, the two, along with the UA College of Engineering, created the J.B. Hunt Innovation Center of Excellence, made possible with a $2.75 million grant from J.B. Hunt. In 2020, the two announced a $2.25 million collaboration to increase awareness of inclusion and diversity in transportation and logistics.
Last year, J.B. Hunt created a $1 million endowed scholarship fund to encourage students to pursue supply chain careers and support the college’s diverse educational environment.
“We’ve made each other better,” said Brad Hicks, executive vice president of people and president of Highway Services for J.B. Hunt. “Through our efforts and collaboration and innovation, we have greater reach as a result of the work we’ve done together.
“We’re focused on building the future of supply chain and supply chain technology.”
Hicks also noted the company collaborated with the UA on an internship program in which more than 100 students have participated since 2018.
Shares of J.B. Hunt (NASDAQ: JBHT) closed Thursday at $192.89, up $1.97 or 1.03%. In the past 52 weeks, the stock has ranged between $153.92 and $218.18.