Erin Rongers has been named associate director of development for the Sam M. Walton College of Business effective April 11, 2018.
“It is a tremendous honor to join the Sam M. Walton College of Business as the associate director of development,” Rongers said. “I am looking forward to working with our alumni, faculty and staff and securing philanthropic support for Walton programs and initiatives.”
Prior to joining the Walton team, Rongers served as the executive director for The Cancer Challenge chapter in Bentonville, Ark., where she oversaw development, board and volunteer management and general business operations. In this role, she was responsible for corporate partnerships, special events and individual giving. She also managed an annual, large-scale fundraising event, which required the coordination of 140 corporate sponsors, more than 2,000 participants and 350 volunteers.
Previously, Rongers worked as the executive director for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwest Arkansas, where she managed business planning, board development, fund development, programs and community relations.
“Erin’s extensive experience and connections in the northwest Arkansas development community will be a huge asset for Walton College,” said John Erck, senior director of development. “She already knows a lot of our supporters, and she has a track record of sustained success. I’m thrilled to have her on our team.”
Rongers holds a bachelor’s degree in communications studies from the University of Texas and a master’s degree in recreation with a concentration in sport management from the University of Arkansas. She is a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.
University of Arkansas student, alumni and faculty entrepreneurs will have a new home base when the Brewer Family Entrepreneurship Hub opens its doors on Friday, Sept. 29. The facility is housed in the former Chamber of Commerce building at 123 W. Mountain St. on the historic Fayetteville Square. It will serve as an interdisciplinary collaboration venue, co-working space, and training center for new and early stage entrepreneurs in Northwest Arkansas.
The facility, made possible by gifts from Jerry, Kay, Clete and Tammy Brewer, builds on the success of the university’s entrepreneurship program, which boasts more victories in national business plan competitions than any other institution in the world – more than 22 since 2009.
Carol Reeves, associate vice provost for entrepreneurship at the University of Arkansas, leads a discussion about customer discovery for her students and other teams participating in the 2017 Delta I-Fund program, an Arkansas-wide initiative that supports early-stage entrepreneurs in the development of their business plans. Photo credit: Garrett Hubbard for the University of Arkansas.
“I’m amazed by what our students have accomplished since the entrepreneurship program began ten years ago,” said Carol Reeves, associate vice provost for entrepreneurship and holder of the Cecil and Gwendolyn Cupp Applied Professorship in Entrepreneurship in the Walton College.
“Together they have now raised more than $60 million in investments to build their businesses, which employ hundreds of Arkansans. As a powerhouse research institution with a land grant mission, the University of Arkansas has a major opportunity, and I would argue obligation, to seed the virtuous cycle between commercialization and new avenues of discovery. The Entrepreneurship Hub will greatly accelerate our ability to drive that cycle.”
The Entrepreneurship Hub will feature regular programming for students and alumni, including invited guest lectures and networking luncheons, as well as office hours provided by experts in fields such as marketing, design, accounting and the law. The services are designed around the needs of entrepreneurship program alumni, who participated in a feedback forum earlier this year led by Reeves. In addition to this regular programming, a series of workshops on social entrepreneurship will be offered for the university community this fall, as will two upcoming public events:
Northwest Arkansas Startup Crawl, organized by Startup Junkie Consultants, Sept. 29 (featured stop)
University of Arkansas Blockchain Hackathon, Oct.28
To foster collaboration between disciplines, as well as between the university and community, the Entrepreneurship Hub will provide full-time office space to a variety of university groups, including: faculty and staff from the Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation; the student-run and managed business SAKE Forever Red; the Tesseract Center for Immersive Environments and Game Design; and STEAM-H, a program of the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences that bridges health care, engineering, design, science and the arts.
Ideas and data will flow freely, thanks to ultrafast 1-plus gigabyte/second bidirectional WiFi made possible by Information Technology Services’ pilot installation of a Ubiquiti AirFiber connection to the campus network.
Anyone in the university community with an interest in entrepreneurship qualifies for membership at the Hub, with special privileges reserved for active and alumni participants of the entrepreneurship program.