As dean emeritus of the Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas, I read with interest Warwick Sabin’s column Dec. 1, “Give to receive.” Sabin describes corporate giving to the University of Arkansas from Wal-Mart and other companies as “unseemly” and criticizes sponsorship of research.

Mr. Sabin did not interview anyone at the Walton College. He didn’t know that of the $223 million that the Walton College raised during the Capital Campaign for the 21st Century, Wal-Mart’s contributions were less than 4 percent, or that Wal-Mart has never asked the Walton College to undertake any program or establish any research center.

Research centers develop through an intensive planning process within the college. They involve over 78 companies as members, some in more than one center. These centers help attract and retain top faculty. Wal-Mart provided the opportunity for our faculty to conduct “hands-on” research on RFID that could be published in the leading academic research journals. Other companies also generously provide research opportunities for faculty and students.

We seek such opportunities. Last academic year, the college interacted with more than 3,000 business leaders. The business world is the laboratory for research in business. We would be derelict in our responsibilities if we did not connect with business practice through research, conferences, and other interactions on issues important to the economy of Arkansas. West Coast universities benefit from the presence of Silicon Valley. Michigan universities have benefited from the auto industry. It is appropriate for the University of Arkansas to be engaged in issues of interest to the drivers of the state’s economy, whether they are agriculture, poultry, trucking, telecommunications, or retailing.

Medical schools and centers, hospitals, presidential libraries, sports arenas, public libraries and a host of other institutions must rely on private support. Increasingly universities do too, lessening the burden on the taxpayers and on students. Such support has brought Walton College to 24th place in the nation among public undergraduate business schools. Its students’ high school grade point average and ACT scores have steadily increased over the last 12 years. Retention and graduation are up. Students win top honors in national competitions regularly. The Walton College tied for “most improved business school in the United States” (public or private) over the last six years according to U.S. News & World Report.
Corporate and individual support has been critical to these achievements. May that support continue.
Dr. Doyle Z. Williams

Rebsamen Park Road
Max Brantley’s column about Alltel’s renewed interest in extending Rebsamen Park Road to Interstate 430 was timely. When the bridge over the lock and dam is complete, giving Little Rock one of the best bicycle trails in the world, the last thing we need to do is create more traffic. And, more traffic in the Murray Park corridor would be the result if an auto bridge was constructed over Jimerson Creek. When this came up a couple of years ago, I suggested that Alltel build a new bridge over the river connecting to Interstate 40. I still favor this approach, but in the meantime a partial solution to the problem would be stronger enforcement of the traffic laws during peak periods of traffic. Driving Rebsamen Park Road to and from work, I am constantly amazed at how fast and recklessly some people will drive through a park full of people.
Basil Gray
Little Rock

The Nutcracker
I’ve got to express my horror at the review of “The Nutcracker” Dec. 15 by Jessica Sardashti. I may be taking it just a little bit personally — as my sweet 10-year-old cousin danced the part of a “party girl” and a “bon-bon” — but I also know that I have been to see the performance for the past three years and was very impressed with this year’s performance.

For Jessica to even suggest that the director should take creative liberties and try to “change it up a bit” to make a performance more interesting shows her lack of knowledge. Ballet Arkansas is not an avant garde group. If she wants to see a “cracked up Nutcracker” she should seek another venue. I am also appalled by her blatant disrespect for the children’s performances. Those children worked hours and hours (since September, Saturdays and Sundays) to dance with the professional troupe. They (and their parents) deserve dignity and an apology.
Leigh Anne Robinson
Little Rock

Fun Fridays
All of the galleries involved in downtown’s 2nd Friday Art Night want to thank the Arkansas Times for continued support of our event.

Ten months ago, seven competing galleries and retailers put our heads together and decided that by pulling together as a group, we were greater than our individual businesses. Some said we’d never pull it off, others said downtown was starving for an event like ours. With Christmas just around the corner, and 10 Art Nights under our belts, we can say with confidence that 2nd Friday Art Night has become a success far beyond our imaginations. We opened our doors and the people came. To help bring culture into the lives of people who visit us is a remarkable charge, and we thank you for helping us make it possible.

As we look ahead to 2006, we eagerly welcome the challenge to provide Art Night visitors with exciting new exhibitions, great local music and a fun evening on the town … right here in downtown Little Rock!
Debra S. Wood
River Market ArtSpace
and 13 others

Our Hogs
Winning isn’t everything. If you have done your best, you have done right and right has no alternative. In the words of Grantland Rice, “It matters not that you won or lost but how you played the game.” We like to think that our Razorbacks played their best.
Katherine Erwin
Little Rock

Christian nation
A “Christian” nation is not exemplified in the actions of a president and a Congress who make first priorities of themselves and the rich while cutting the budget at the expense of poor and middle-class Americans. If budget cuts are necessary to pay for the war in Iraq, they should extend to those who can most afford them.
Marilyn Fish Bryan

Oil substitutes
After watching testimony by oil company executives, it is clear that the world will remain dependent on oil until the last drop is pumped out of the ground. It is of interest that during the three hours of hearings not one of the panel of oil men raised a question about what will happen when the oil fields are pumped dry. What’s worse, no one on the committee raised the question.

I was in the eighth grade when our science teacher told us that the atom had been split by Dr. Edward Teller and his team from the University of Chicago. Five or six years later, an American team of scientists perfected the atom bomb and ended World War II.

All of this history leads me to this: Why is it that the United States is not willing to devote the same amount of commitment to free us of our dependence on oil?
Frank Lambright
Little Rock



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