Barbara Lofton, director of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion in the Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas, and Elecia Smith, executive director of the U of A’s IDEALS Institute, presented the workshop “In Too Deep: Managing Stress and Preventing Burnout” at the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International Diversity and Inclusion Summit on Nov. 13 in New Orleans.
The summit took place as part of the AACSB’s International Associate Deans Conference held Nov. 13-15. The AACSB is the international accrediting organization for collegiate business schools.
The presentation focused on the causes of stress for diversity professionals and resources and tactics available to lessen the stress.
“Stress and burnout are all too common for diversity professionals,” Lofton said. “I want to support other professionals by providing resources to them and advocating for them. I believe in paying it forward.”
Lofton also presented “To Have or Not to Have an Office of Diversity Within a College” to the Diversity and Inclusion Network Affinity Group meeting held at the conclusion of the summit. She discussed best practices, missions and strategies employed by collegiate diversity programs. Lofton served as the session moderator.
“Diversity helps teams think differently and create smarter products and programs,” Lofton said. “It is the right thing to do, but it is also a smart and profitable thing to implement in business or academia, whether referring to diverse hires, diverse thought, or products and programs that speak to diverse audiences. It all matters.”
Walton College boasts the oldest diversity and inclusion office at any Southeastern Conference business school. It celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2019. Lofton has served as its director for 24 years.
Barbara Lofton, director of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion in the Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas, received the Tony Walker Diversity Champion Award from the Gerald and Candace Alley Foundation Nov. 20, 2019, to acknowledge her work to support and promote diversity and inclusion in Northwest Arkansas, the U of A and Walton College.
Lofton was recognized at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville during the 40th anniversary tour of Con-Real, a real estate, construction and development company in Arlington, Texas, which is touring the regions in which it serves.
Gerald Alley, president and chief executive officer of Con-Real, presented Lofton with the award.
“I was so surprised and humbled by this recognition. I do things because it’s the right thing to do,” Lofton said. “If I want to leave the world better than I found it, I have to do my part.”
Lofton and her team provide support services for undergraduate and graduate students at the Walton College. In addition, the office hosts summer camps for high school students to attract minorities and women to business programs. Her team also serves as advisers to several registered student organizations that promote diversity in business.
Alley is a member of the Walton College Dean’s Executive Advisory Board. His brother Troy Alley Jr., executive vice president and real estate leader at Con-Real, serves on the University of Arkansas College of Engineering Advisory Council. Both are graduates of the U of A. The Alleys support several outreach programs at Walton College through the Gerald and Candace Alley Foundation and Alley Scholars, a nonprofit organization founded by Troy and his wife Unnice, which promotes and supports education through scholarships, networking events and business competitions.
Lofton has served as the director of diversity and inclusion at Walton College for 24 years. She also teaches diversity classes at Walton College. Previously, Lofton worked as an assistant professor at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and Grambling State University. She received an Ed.D. in higher education from Grambling State University, M.A. from the University of Iowa and a B.S.E.D. from Jackson State University. She is a member of the American Association for Blacks in Higher Education.
The Office of Diversity and Inclusion at the Sam M. Walton College of Business hosted four residential summer camps in June to introduce high school students to the University of Arkansas and Walton College.
The four camps introduce high ability minority students to career options, campus resources and campus life.
“Introducing college life to high school kids who may not otherwise have this opportunity is life changing,” said Barbara Lofton, director of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion for Walton College. “Through our summer camp programs, these students meet faculty and staff, stay in dorm rooms and eat meals on campus, participate in research and learn about academic and career opportunities available to them.
“It changes their perception of college and makes them feel at home here.”
The Business Leadership Academy, held June 9-13, introduced newly admitted freshmen to campus life. The students enhanced leadership skills through team projects and met Walton staff and faculty. The program also told students about career opportunities in retail and marketing.
The Fleischer Scholars Program, held June 16-21, hosted two camps for low income high school juniors and seniors whose parents did not attend college. Fleischer Scholars Program I was for students new to the program. Fleischer Scholars Program II welcomed back students who attended the camp previously.
The weeklong camps taught students how to research, develop and present a business plan and helped them transition from high school to college. The Fleischer Scholars Program provides a four-year partial college scholarship to participants.
The Accounting Career Awareness Program was held June 23-28 for underrepresented high school juniors and seniors interested in pursuing careers in accounting. Students attended undergraduate classes and networked with accouting professionals. Workshops focused on basic skills needed for accounting careers, business etiquette and requirements for certified public accountants.
The Office of Diversity and Inclusion was established in 1994 to support, advocate and assist Walton College in developing plans for diversity and supporting students throughout the college. It is the oldest office of diversity at an Southeastern Conference business school and recently celebrated its 25th anniversary. For more information regarding the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, visit walton.uark.edu/diversity.
About the University of Arkansas:The University of Arkansas provides an internationally competitive education for undergraduate and graduate students in more than 200 academic programs. The university contributes new knowledge, economic development, basic and applied research, and creative activity while also providing service to academic and professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the University of Arkansas among fewer than 2.7 percent of universities in America that have the highest level of research activity. U.S. News & World Report ranks the University of Arkansas among its top American public research universities. Founded in 1871, the University of Arkansas comprises 10 colleges and schools and maintains a low student-to-faculty ratio that promotes personal attention and close mentoring.
On Friday, April 5, the Office of Diversity & Inclusion at the Sam M. Walton College of Business hosted an award ceremony and reception at the Chancellor Hotel in Fayetteville to mark its 25thanniversary at the University of Arkansas.
Jim Coleman, provost and executive vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Arkansas, recognized Barbara Lofton, Ed.D., for her 23 years of service as the director for the Office of Diversity & Inclusion – the oldest diversity office at a Southeastern Conference business school.
“Barbara is a beacon on the hill for us,” Coleman said. “The fact the Office of Diversity & Inclusion has been here 25 years is a testament to Walton College’s commitment.”
“I’m proud of the work Barbara and her team have done to recruit and retain such excellent students over the years,” said Matt Waller, Walton College dean. “Barbara’s leadership and her attention to students has been life changing for many young people.”
Ebony Wyatt, director of sales at General Mills, emceed the event. Wyatt, a Walton College alumna, shared her own memories of the Office of Diversity & Inclusion. She first learned about Walton College through the Accounting Career Awareness Program summer camp hosted by the diversity office when Wyatt was a junior in high school. She also credits Lofton with helping her secure her first professional job with General Mills. Wyatt now teams up with Lofton and the Office of Diversity & Inclusion to host career workshops focused on helping students successfully secure a full-time job.
“She’s like a mother hen,” Wyatt said of Lofton. “She is always there to help support you, push you and encourage you to be your best!”
The Office of Diversity & Inclusion named two individuals Diversity Champions for their work to support minorities, students and entrepreneurs: Lonnie R. Williams, Ed.D., special assistant to the chancellor at Arkansas State University and former assistant vice chancellor for student affairs at the University of Arkansas, and Oliver L. Sims III,
America’s technical sales leader for CA Technologies, a division of Broadcom, the managing partner of Oliver Sims Advisors and Investors and co-founder of Henry Health, a mental health and self care support digital platform.
Walton College students were also honored for their leadership in the National Association of Black Accountants and the Students of Retailing Excellence student organizations. Recognized were Eric Mays – accounting senior, Joe Bradley Jr. – accounting senior, Victoria Fields – management senior, De’Stani Clark – marketing senior, Malik Dedner – Master of Accountancy candidate, Fredrica Harris – MBA candidate and Jada Gaspard – marketing senior.
Keynote speaker student De’Stani Clark shared how the Office of Diversity & Inclusion had personally encouraged her as a student at the university. Before starting college, Clark’s mother was diagnosed with stage 4 brain cancer, which left Clark with serious choices. Clark was not sure she should leave her family to attend college due to her mother’s illness but chose to attend with her mother’s encouragement. At the end of her spring semester freshman year, Clark’s mother passed away. Clark struggled emotionally the following academic year and leaned on the Office of Diversity & Inclusion.
“I felt the light of love and support of Dr. Lofton, Dr. Hughes, Mrs. Anne and Ryan,” Clark said. “I challenge you to find two students in need and let them know they have the power to choose.”
The Gerald and Candace Alley Foundation, Con-Real, LP, and Ernst & Young sponsored the 25thanniversary event.
About the Office of Diversity & Inclusion
Created in 1994, the Office of Diversity & Inclusion supports, advocates and assists the Walton College in developing plans for diversity throughout the school to increase representation, integration and the fundamentals of equality among all faculty, staff and students.
The department manages four summer outreach programs to educate high school students about business careers and opportunities at Walton College. The office also oversees several scholarship programs and business competitions for Walton College students.
The American Association of Blacks in Higher Education presented Barbara Lofton, director of Office of Diversity & Inclusion at the Sam M. Walton College of Business, with the AABHE Exemplary Public Service Award on Monday, March 25, for her work to improve the lives of African Americans. Lofton received the award in Indianapolis at the AABHE’s annual national conference.
“I am so proud of Barbara and the work she does for Walton College and for higher education throughout the SEC,” said Matt Waller, dean for the Walton College. “She works tirelessly on behalf of the University of Arkansas to recruit and retain students here on campus through a variety of programs, scholarships and activities. She is a true gem.”
The public service award recognizes recipients for their work to develop and implement community, political or business programs to encourage black Americans in those sectors. In addition, the award reflects the honoree’s commitment to the AABHE and its mission.
Lofton served as past president of the AABHE from 2011 to 2013, served on its executive board from 2006 to 2106 and was a founding member of AABHE when it was formed in 2006. As president, she increased the organization’s membership, built partnerships with outside organizations and added a service component to its annual conference. The service projects raised funds to provide books, technology or food for underserved communities. Lofton also raised $200,000 through sponsorships for the national conference.
In addition to her executive duties with AABHE, Lofton was co-author of the book Priorities of the Professoriate: Engaging Multiple Forms of Scholarship across Rural and Urban Institutions. She was co-editor for the National Journal of Urban Education & Practice, a journal for the AABHE in 2012.
At Walton College, Lofton oversees diversity programs and scholarships. As part of her position, she manages programs to recruit and retain minority students including summer camps and business competitions. Additionally, Lofton teaches classes in the Walton College and serves as a consultant to several Southeastern Conference business schools to establish and support their diversity programs.
“I learned that leadership is not about you, but the people you serve,” Lofton said. “My reward comes when you have the opportunity to see the benefits of your work for those you serve and for yourself.”
Matthew A. Waller, dean of the Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas, will receive the Whitney M. Young Award for his work to improve the lives of underserved Arkansans at a luncheon hosted by the Urban League of the State of Arkansas on Dec. 5 at the Wyndham Riverfront Hotel in North Little Rock.
“It is quite an honor for me to be a recognized by the Urban League,” said Waller. “An integral part of the Walton College mission is to serve all Arkansans, something I take seriously. To aid us in our mission, Walton College leans on our Office of Diversity and Inclusion, the oldest diversity office of any SEC business college. We also provide scholarships and academic support resources to assist and retain students. This support is important to our school, industry and state.”
The luncheon, chaired by Lottie Shackelford, former mayor of Little Rock, recognizes the contributions of individuals who help provide equal opportunities for all Arkansans.
Waller was chosen for the honor because of his commitment to diversity and inclusion at Walton College and within the state. Annie Abrams, a longtime civil rights activist, will also be recognized at the event.
For additional information or to purchase tickets for the event, contact the Urban League at email@example.com.
The Office of Diversity and Inclusion and Walton Career Services at the Sam M. Walton College of Business are hosting a picnic and networking event, panel discussion, recruiting information session and doughnut giveaway Oct. 8-11 to promote diversity in the workplace.
Students, faculty and staff are welcome to attend.
A Diversity in the Workplace discussion will take place in the Reynolds Center for Enterprise Development auditorium on Wednesday, Oct. 10, from 4-5 p.m. with senior leaders from Walmart, General Mills, Academy Sports + Outdoors and J.B. Hunt Transport Services, Inc. Panelists will discuss diversity and inclusion, thought processes and perceptions, and changes in mindset. Pre-registration is required.
Other activities include:
Picnic on the Plaza– Find free food and corporate recruiters Monday, Oct. 8, on Shollmier Plaza from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.Bring your resume and your appetite!
Women’s Leadership in Business Coffee Chat— Join a small group discussion about women’s leadership in the business world and career development on Tuesday, Oct. 9, 9:30-10:30 a.m., in WJWH 501. Space is limited. Pre-registration is required.
Pitched Perfect– Deliver an elevator pitch to corporate recruiters and get their feedback on Tuesday, Oct. 9, 3-5 p.m., in WJWH 203. Pre-registration is required.
Company of the Day: Academy Sports + Outdoors– Talk with corporate recruiters about career opportunities and diversity hiring on Wednesday, Oct. 10, in the WCOB second floor atrium 9 a.m.-noon and 1:30-3 p.m. Info sessions will also be held in WJWH 203 starting at 12 p.m. and 1 p.m.
Diversity Doughnut Day– Grab a doughnut on Thursday, Oct. 11, from 8:30 a.m. until they are gone!
Pop-Up Shop on Global Intercultural Fluency– Join Walton career coaches on Thursday, Oct. 11, 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., in the WJWH atrium for career advice on the go. Multicultural partners will share global engagement opportunities.
The Office of Diversity and Inclusion at the Sam M. Walton College of Business is hosting 19 high school students from Arkansas and Texas at the Accounting Career Awareness Program on the University of Arkansas campus July 15-20. The residential summer camp introduces high ability minority students to career options available in accounting and other fields of business administration.
To kick off the program, Anne O’Leary-Kelly, Walton College senior associate dean; Barbara Lofton, Walton College director of Diversity and Inclusion; andDonell Cunningham, president of the Northwest Arkansas chapter of the National Association of Black Accountants, will speak to students about career and academic options. During the week, students attend short courses in business foundations, accounting, oral and written communications, computer information systems, ACT Prep and multimedia. National Association of Black Accountants members assist and serve as mentors to students.
Accounting executives, business leaders and other professionals talk with students about professional development and opportunities in their field. Campers will tour nearby corporations including Walmart and JB Hunt Transport Services Inc. to learn more about accounting.
“I am thrilled that Walton College is opening doors to professional accounting careers for these students,” Lofton said. “We couldn’t have done it without the generosity of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the National Association of Black Accountants and other corporate partners. It’s a great investment into our communities, our state and our college.”
This year’s camp is supported by a $14,000 grant from the institute and the national association. An additional $10,000 from a collaborative effort of the Northwest Arkansas chapter, Walmart, KPMG, EY and The Tea Rose Foundation of Northwest Arkansas also supports the summer program.
Walton College hosted the first Accounting Career Awareness Program session in the summer of 1994 and continued the program until 2010 through the support of the Ernst & Young Foundation and the Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation. Through their support, the Accounting Career Awareness Program accommodated more than 300 participants.
The Accounting Career Awareness Program was developed by the National Association of Black Accountants in response to the growing need for minorities in accounting and related fields of business.
Thea Winston, a senior accounting major from Forrest City, Arkansas, is a thinker and a planner. She gathers pertinent information, dwells on it, creates a plan and then executes it. Information gathering is what led her to the Sam M. Walton College of Business and has kept her on track ever since.
When Winston was in high school in eastern Arkansas, she began to critique her likes and dislikes to plan for her future. She hated blood and gore, so medicine was a definite no. She liked numbers and logic, which led her to work after school at certified public accountant Sharon Wilson’s office in Forrest City.
While there, Winston performed administrative duties – answered the phone, made copies, filed materials – and was able to tackle the occasional accounting task and observe her boss at work. She learned what an accountant does and saw first hand that the work suited her. She realized she could become a CPA.
Her task became: Find a college that fit.
Over two summers, Winston attended two week-long residential programs at Walton College – Technology Awareness Program and Business Leadership Academy – where she met faculty and staff, lived on campus, befriended other campers and applied for scholarships.
After that, her mind was made up. Walton College was her choice and accounting was her major.
Winston’s summer camp programs eased her transition into college. She had made friends at both programs and reconnected with them in her freshmen year. She also met Barbara Lofton, the director of Walton’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion.
“Dr. Lofton is always willing to help,” Winston said. “She always checked up on me. She gives you tough love and is always there.”
Winston’s Honors adviser for the past four years is Jason Adams, the associate director of Walton’s Honors Program, who was always there for Winston as well. She cites Susan Anders, the assistant director of Global Engagement, as another Walton staff member who was equally friendly and supportive.
“She always made time to answer my questions,” Winston said.
With the support of these Walton College staff, it is no surprise that Winston was an active participant in the Honors Program and Study Abroad and scholarship opportunities.
During her high school summer camp programs, Winston applied for and became a Boyer Fellow. The fellowship is earmarked for business students from Arkansas who have earned a 32 ACT or 1450 SAT college admission exams, along with a 3.75 grade point average and pays for her tuition, fees, books, room and board and other academic expenses.
Winston has also received the Arkansas Academic Challenge and Arkansas Governor’s Distinguished Scholarships, as well as scholarships from Tyson and Conoco Phillips. Talking to Walton faculty and staff helped her find scholarships.
“They’ve helped out so much,” Winston said. “I see a lot of students struggle and I know that worrying impacts their studies. It (scholarships) allowed me to focus on what I was doing academically.”
The scholarships also had an impact on her parents who have two kids in college. Winston’s brother, Avery, is an engineering student at the University of Arkansas.
Walton World View
In addition to studying accounting and general business, Winston expanded her working business knowledge through an internship for two summers at Ernst & Young in Atlanta. She also participated in Walton’s study abroad program to learn about Vietnamese culture and business practices.
In 2015, the summer before sophomore year, Winston traveled to Vietnam for a month with five other Walton students. For two weeks, she worked on a community development project building individual greenhouse systems to power and heat resident housing. Working with other business and agriculture students from the University of Arkansas, Thea learned from Vietnamese students who served as mentors and translators.
The travelers stayed on a Vietnamese university campus for two weeks. They slept on mats lying directly on a twin-size bed frame – Winston bought a second mat to create a softer bed. The food also was a change for the Arkansas native. Breakfast was often meat with rice, along with coffee with sweetened condensed milk ladled on top. One of her favorite meals was a beef dish with a sauce. She avoided the fish dishes if the eyes and head were intact.
“The first year we went, none of us had much of an idea of what we would be doing or how successful the program would ultimately be,” said Stephen Kopp, associate professor for the Department of Marketing. “Whether she realizes it, Thea was instrumental in the initial and continuing impact of this program. This was a brand-new program, and I was still working on the details. Her consistent question was, ‘My mom wants to know how is this relevant to my major?’ This compelled me, and still does, to make sure that the students understand the relevance of our work in Vietnam. I think she did not and does not realize the impact of her mom’s question has had on every aspect of the Vietnam program.”
In spring 2017, Winston attended the University of Sussex in South England in the University of Arkansas’ exchange program. She took four classes there – international business, ethics, race and ethnicity, and leadership – with students from Russia, Switzerland, the Middle East and England. The experience taught her about multi-national enterprises, racial issues in other countries and group dynamics with diverse members.
During her time in England, she learned many people there knew American politics, but most Americans were not in tune with world politics. She now sees the importance of being aware of global issues including political ones. She keeps up with her fellow students from her travels via social media.
At the University of Arkansas, several classes and professors were especially thought provoking for Thea. Katie Terrell, an instructor for the Department of Accounting, taught Accounting Technology, where Winston learned about data analysis and the coding needed for accounting systems. It gave her insight into a different aspect of her major.
“She (Katie Terrell) enjoyed her job; it made me enjoy her class,” Winston said.
The Honors Economics Colloquium class taught by Amy Farmer, a professor in the Department of Economics, tackled life decisions, which involved economic thinking and decision making.
“Thea took my Honors colloquium course, which is a discussion-based economics class requiring a lot of critical thinking about any number of issues, some of which are controversial,” Farmer said. “Thea was an active participant in that class, adding a lot of insight and perspectives that added to the class. She showed a great deal of maturity and ability to think critically, which impressed me quite a bit. I look forward to seeing what happens in Thea’s future.”
After Winston graduates in May with a bachelor’s degree in accounting, she will attend Vanderbilt University to earn a master’s degree in accounting. Once she graduates from Vanderbilt, she hopes to work at a public accounting firm in consulting, auditing or tax accounting for several years and then reevaluate her professional goals and direction.
No doubt, her skills at researching an issue, creating a plan and executing the plan will aid her on her journey to Nashville and beyond.