Bill Walker Named Honorary Alumnus of the Year

This year, joining the pictures of our President’s Award winners and Distinguished Alumni will be the first winner of the Honorary Alumni Award.   The Honorary Alumni award will be presented to non-graduates who have had significant and positive impact through their professional or personal contributions to the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

The first individual to be named an Honorary Alumnus of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock is Bill Walker. The Alumni Association recognizes Vice Chancellor Bill Walker, who is retiring next month, for significant contributions to UALR’s progress, reputation, and prestige.  Bill is someone who has worked tirelessly for the betterment of the University.  His staff understood when they signed on board to work for him, that they would be required to think, live, and breathe UALR.  Why?  Because that’s what Bill has done, week in and week out, and that’s what he expects from them. 

Bill is known for many things.  Among them, his string of legislative accomplishments that include successful shepherding of the legislation to create the Donaghey College of Engineering and Information Technology, and his unabashed interest in developing at UALR a nationally recognized Nanotechnology program. 

As a champion of the metropolitan university movement, Bill strived to form mutually beneficial partnerships with business, government, and community groups locally, and beyond, that foster learning for our students, provide support for our faculty, and enhance the quality of life in the greater Little Rock area and the state.

Bill’s vision brought about recognition in 2011 when UALR became the only Arkansas university to earn the Community Engagement designation in the National Carnegie classification system.  And, this spring, UALR was selected for the 2013 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for commitment to service and civic engagement.

Bill has long been an apostle of university engagement with the community, and others have noticed and certified the quality and significance of our record.

At any given time, UALR nowadays has hundreds of partnerships in the community.  These range from leadership development and reading initiatives, to improving neighborhoods and providing free dental care to children. 

You can see his passion on full display each fall through the windows of the Henry Room of the Bailey Center.  The Friday Fellows Leadership Program, named for attorney Herschel H. Friday, reflects the late Mr. Friday’s commitment to service.  The Friday Fellows Program teaches students the art of developing partnerships, applying classroom learning, and becoming community leaders. 

Bill’s long shadow at UALR could be divided this way:  He’s taught students and encouraged his staff to understand differing social and political perspectives.  He has integrated academic study and learning through service and reflection; he has shaped the thinking of many students in a way that disposes them to serve communities well. In addition, he has guided the university through treacherous political waters and played a key role in building its essential resources base.

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