The Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation will donate $120 million to the University of Arkansas to create a school of art. Talk Business & Politics reports the gift, announced Wednesday, is the largest ever given to a U.S. university to support or build a school of art.
“This gift creates the first and only school of art in the state of Arkansas, and will propel art education and research in the state forward while also providing unparalleled access and opportunity to students,” noted the UA statement. “The gift will also help position the School of Art as a center of excellence in art education, art history, graphic design and studio art curriculum.”
Alice Walton, daughter of Wal-Mart Stores cofounders Helen and Sam Walton and the money and push behind the Bentonville-based Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, said the school will help bring the “hope” found in art to communities.
“The School of Art will shape a new generation of artists, historians, designers and teachers with a unique understanding of the hope art can bring to communities,” said Walton, who is also chair of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art’s board. “The unparalleled access to meaningful American art will connect the heartland to the world.”
The $120 million gift will be allocated to three primary goals:
• Providing financial support for students in the form of scholarships, travel grants and internship opportunities;
• Engaging the region in outreach and public service through partnerships with Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and a variety of community arts organizations; and
• Expanding graduate programs and degree offerings in art history, art education and graphic design.
Development of the planned art school will be phased in over a five-year period, providing time for approvals necessary for degree programs by the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees, the Arkansas Department of Higher Education and the Arkansas Higher Education Coordinating Board. The school will be housed within the university’s J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences.
University of Arkansas Chancellor Joseph Steinmetz said the school will place a strong emphasis on American art and art of the Americas, which complements the mission of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.
“The vision to create the School of Art could not have come to fruition without the cooperative, close and mutually beneficial relationship between the world-class Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and the university,” Steinmetz said. “With an emphasis on cross-disciplinary collaborations and signature outreach efforts with the museum, and a focus on student, faculty and staff diversity, the school will be uniquely positioned to develop programs to rival the top competitors in the field.”