2016 Arkansas Business Hall of Fame Inductees Are Announced

Four distinguished leaders in business and community service in Arkansas have been named to the 2016 class of inductees for the Arkansas Business Hall of Fame.

The Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas and the Arkansas Business Hall of Fame Board announced that these outstanding leaders will join the 70 other members of the Hall of Fame on Friday, Feb. 12, 2016:

  • William T. Dillard II, chair and chief executive officer of Dillard’s Inc.
  • George K. Mitchell, former president and chief executive officer of Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield
  • Winthrop Rockefeller (1912–1973), former governor of Arkansas and founder of Winrock Farms
  • Patricia P. Upton, founder and former president/chief executive officer of Aromatique Inc.

“It is a privilege to celebrate the achievements of these four outstanding business leaders of our state through their induction into the Arkansas Business Hall of Fame,” Walton College interim Dean Matt Waller said. “They and those inductees who have preceded them represent the best in business in Arkansas. Their lives and careers have had a tremendous impact on business both inside and outside the state and have inspired others to do the same.”

The Arkansas Business Hall of Fame induction ceremony will be held at the Statehouse Convention Center in Little Rock. The Arkansas Business Hall of Fame is permanently housed in the atrium of the Donald W. Reynolds Center for Enterprise Development at the Walton College on the University of Arkansas campus in Fayetteville.

Ann Bordelon, Walton College alumna and retired Walmart executive, chaired the selection committee of nine business and community leaders who reviewed nominations from throughout the state and chose the inductees. Criteria for selection included: the significance of the impact made as a business leader, the concern demonstrated for improving the community and the display of ethics in all business dealings. In addition, living inductees must be over the age of 60.

William T. Dillard II

Bill Dillard, chair and chief executive officer of Dillard’s Inc., is the oldest son of retailing pioneer William T. Dillard, founder of Dillard Department Stores. He was born in Nashville, Arkansas, on March 4, 1945. Bill Dillard began working part-time in his father’s retail operations while still in school. In 1966, he graduated from the Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration as an accounting major. Two years later, he earned a Master of Business Administration from Harvard University. He began his career at Dillard’s in 1967 and joined the company’s board of directors the same year. From 1977 to 1998, Dillard served as president and chief operating officer of the company. He succeeded his father as chief executive officer in 1998 and was named chair of the company in 2002. He has been a member of the boards of directors of Acxiom Corp. since 1988 and Barnes & Noble since 1993. In April 2015, Dillard received the University of Arkansas Chancellor’s Medal. He served on the university’s Campaign Steering Committee and the Corporate and Foundation Relations Committee of the Campaign for the Twenty-First Century and now serves as a member of the Executive, Campaign Steering, and Corporate and Foundation Relations committees for Campaign Arkansas. He is a former member of the Dean’s Circle and Dean’s Executive Advisory Board of the Walton College and has been a member of the Razorback Foundation for more than five decades. His father, William Dillard Sr., was inducted into the Arkansas Business Hall of Fame with the inaugural class in 1999.

George K. Mitchell, M.D.

Dr. George K. Mitchell of Little Rock served as president and chief executive officer at Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield from 1975 until his retirement in 1993. He continues to serve as a member of the organization’s board of directors. Mitchell earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1952 from Hendrix College, a Bachelor of Science from the University of Arkansas School of Medicine in 1953 and his Doctor of Medicine, with honors, from the University of Arkansas School of Medicine in 1956. He was board certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine in 1963. Mitchell was a co-founder of the Little Rock Diagnostic Clinic and was a senior partner until 1968 when he joined Arkansas Blue Cross as its full-time medical director. In 1972, he was named vice president of Medicare and Medical Services. He has served on the boards of Union National Bank, Worthen Bank and Trust Co., the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Little Rock Chamber of Commerce and has been a member of the executive committee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. He was named a life member of the board of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra in 2000. Mitchell served on the Hendrix College Board of Trustees from 1981 to 1993 and was its chair from 1986 to 1993. He was named a distinguished alumnus and awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree in 1993. The Easter Seal Society named him Arkansan of the Year in 1994.

Gov. Winthrop Rockefeller (1912-1973)

Winthrop Rockefeller was first Republican Governor of Arkansas since post-Civil War reconstruction. He served two terms in office from 1967 to 1971. His contributions in business and economic development in Arkansas began earlier, however, with his arrival in 1953 when he established Winrock Farms, a state-of-the-art purebred cattle business that consistently set new standards in the cattle industry. This was one of many successful Arkansas businesses that benefitted from his influence. He was founding chair of the Arkansas Industrial Development Commission in 1955, which is now the Arkansas Economic Development Commission., He worked tirelessly to attract businesses and industrial plants to Arkansas, resulting in millions of dollars in capital investment and ultimately thousands of jobs. Later as governor, he advocated for public policy and government reforms that helped to create a vibrant economic and business environment. The scope of Winthrop Rockefeller’s legacy as business owner, advocate for industrial and economic development and governor continues to impact the business culture in Arkansas. Rockefeller also donated millions of dollars to improve education in the state by giving to and building schools, co-founding the Arkansas Arts Center and much more. His legacy continues in the numerous charities, scholarships and activities of the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation and the Winthrop Rockefeller Charitable Trust. The foundation provides funding for projects across Arkansas to encourage economic development, education and racial and social justice.

Patricia P. Upton

Patti Upton of Heber Springs is the founder and former president and chief executive officer of Aromatique Inc., a multi-million-dollar international company that launched the decorative fragrance industry. Before Upton, American women brought color and fragrance to their home only by using live flowers. She created decorative fragrance in open bowls, as well as fragranced candles. Her first fragrance creation – The Smell of Christmas – was made up of Arkansas native botanicals such as acorns, pine cones, gumballs and hickory nuts, scented with spices and oils. Placed in a friend’s shop, the fragrance sold out and customers clamored for more. Aromatique, founded in 1982, now features many fragrance product lines, complete with accessories and decorative containers, and a full bath line. Today the company employs more than 200 people in Arkansas. Media took notice, including People magazine, “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous,” the London Sunday Express, Southern Living and the Washington Post. Upton has been recognized by Working Woman magazine, the International Women’s Forum, the Society of Entrepreneurs and the Easter Seal Society. She was honored as the Arkansas Business Woman Owner of the Year and her company as the Arkansas Business of the Year. Several organizations have benefited from her philanthropic work, including the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and The Nature Conservancy. Upton was recognized with the Distinguished Citizen Award from Little Rock’s KARK-TV and the Office of the Governor of the State of Arkansas for her charitable work.

A list of previous inductees into the Arkansas Business Hall of Fame is available at walton.uark.edu/abhf.

Tickets to the Arkansas Business Hall of Fame induction ceremony, a black-tie optional event, are $150 per person. For more information about tickets and event sponsorships, please contact the office of external relations at the Sam M. Walton College of Business, Donald W. Reynolds Center for Enterprise Development 217, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR 72701-1201, 479-575-6146, by email at abhf@walton.uark.edu, or on the Web at walton.uark.edu/abhf.