FAYETTEVILLE — As the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville prepares to embark upon a national search for the next dean of the Sam M. Walton College of Business, the university has named an interim leader from within the college.
Brent Williams will serve as interim dean starting Aug. 14, the same date current Dean Matthew Waller set for himself to step down and return to a faculty position as a professor of supply chain management. Waller, who took over as dean in the spring of 2016 after serving as interim dean since 2015, announced his plans early last month. The university announced the appointment of Williams on Friday.
Williams, who received his Ph.D. in business administration — with a concentration in supply chain management — from UA-Fayetteville, is currently senior associate dean and Garrison Endowed Chair in Supply Chain Management in the Walton College, overseeing the business school’s academic departments, student success initiatives and insights and analytics function, as well as leading Walton College’s strategic planning process and several strategic initiatives, according to the university.
He has chaired the department of supply chain management and led the early development of the McMillon Innovation Studio and Walton College in Little Rock.
“I am energized by the opportunity to serve as interim dean,” Williams said in a news release from the university. “I am grateful to Provost Terry Martin for his confidence in me and to Dean Matt Waller for his mentorship and support.”
Martin appointed Williams to the interim dean position and said in the news release that he’s confident Williams “will continue the great work” Waller has started, “as well as continue to position Walton College as one of the best business schools in the country.”
In recent years, the Walton College of Business has received plaudits from U.S. News and World Report, including being named one of the “Best Business Schools” and having one of the “Best Undergraduate Business Programs,” according to the university. Gartner Inc., cited the college for having the country’s top undergraduate program in supply chain management in 2020 and 2022.
In addition, The Princeton Review credited the university for having one of the top graduate entrepreneurship programs in the country this year, its first appearance in those rankings. It was ranked 35th among the 50 schools listed in the rankings, co-published in November by The Princeton Review and Entrepreneur magazine, and number five in the South region.
Under Waller’s leadership, Walton College has developed seven new master programs, established myriad endowments, and created four new online bachelor’s degree programs.
It’s also led the way in the university’s recent enrollment uptick, as it’s up 600 students — a far larger increase than any other school — this year, to 2,417 students, according to Suzanne McCray, vice provost for enrollment and dean of admissions.
Williams, who has also been on the faculty at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth and Auburn University in Alabama, has led research on how retail supply chains can develop and redesign planning and execution processes to meet the demands of today’s changing marketplace, according to the university. He’s also published more than 30 articles in several leading business journals.
“I am incredibly proud of the accomplishments and growth we have achieved together at Walton College during my tenure as dean, [and] as I transition back to the faculty, I am confident that (Williams) will excel in his new role as interim dean,” Waller said in the university’s news release. “His extensive experience, dedication, and innovative spirit make him the ideal candidate to lead Walton College into the future, [and] I look forward to witnessing the continued success of our institution under his capable leadership.”