Accounting Department Named for William Dillard

William Dillard in front of one of the department stores which carry his name.
William T. Dillard

In recognition of his pioneering work in the retail field and founding of the department store chain that bears his family name, the Walton College accounting department will be named the William Dillard Department of Accounting.

William T. Dillard (1914-2002) graduated from the University of Arkansas’ College of Business Administration in 1935 with a degree in accounting.

Dillard was responsible for the development of one of the nation’s retail giants, with its rapid growth and success attributed to his personal work ethic and hands-on approach to management, his ability to turn marginal operations into profitable concerns and his efficient system of distribution and inventory control. Dillard himself attributed his success to a commitment to customer satisfaction and reasonable pricing.

The William Dillard Department of Accounting is one of only two named departments on the University of Arkansas campus.

“We are pleased and honored to have the William Dillard Department of Accounting established at the University of Arkansas,” said Chancellor Joe Steinmetz. “Mr. Dillard’s leadership and accomplishments in business are an inspiration to our students and faculty and the naming of this department in his honor ensures his legacy will continue to inspire our students and serve our campus for years to come.”

Dillard was inducted into the first class of the Arkansas Business Hall of Fame in 1999. His son, William T. Dillard II, current chairman and chief executive officer of Dillard’s Inc., joined his father in the hall of fame in 2016. The younger Dillard graduated from the U of A in 1966 with a degree in accounting and has given $6.5 million to support the accounting department toward a planned total gift of $10 million.

“The act of naming a department is pivotal to the continued improvement of the accounting department and to our college as a whole,” said Matt Waller, Walton College dean and Sam M. Walton Leadership Chair in Business. “The recognition it represents and the association with the business acumen and success of Mr. Dillard strengthens our ability to attract the best students and attract and retain top faculty.

“Naming also recognizes the contribution of outstanding Arkansans such as William Dillard to the University of Arkansas and our state and is consistent with our position at Arkansas’ flagship university.”

The gifts will have a transformational impact on the development of the accounting department.

“Hundreds of students already benefit from Mr. Dillard’s generosity every year,” said Gary Peters, department chair and holder of the S. Robson Walton Endowed Chair in Accounting. “Thousands of students, the accounting profession and the Arkansas business economy will continue to benefit for years to come. As a member of Arkansas’ flagship university, the accounting department has a storied history of contributions to Arkansas’ accounting profession. Dillard’s gift expands those contributions and opportunities for students as a nationally recognized program.”

Naming gifts meet needs that bring extensive benefit to the department, its faculty and students.

The Dillard gifts will support, among others:

  • Faculty development and retention
  • Professional outreach
  • Program innovations
  • Research and doctoral funding
  • Accounting analytics and technology curriculum
  • Masters of Professional Accounting scholarships
  • Executive-in-residence opportunities

The William Dillard Department of Accounting joins the Ralph E. Martin Department of Chemical Engineering as the two named departments at the U of A. In 2005, Ralph E. Martin, who was born in Eureka Springs and who founded PetroFac Inc. of Tyler, Texas, gave $5 million to endow the chemical engineering department.

All naming opportunities are subject to approval by the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees.