In 1987, William E. “Bill” Clark founded CDI Contractors in a 50-50 partnership with Dillard’s Inc. CDI could have been occupied with building only Dillard’s stores, but Clark took the company much further, expanding nationwide to include hospitals, hotels and shopping malls. CDI consistently ranked in Engineering New-Record’s top 400 contractors. The company built many of the state’s best-known buildings: William J. Clinton Presidential Library, Jackson T. Stephens Spine and Neuroscience Center at UAMS, Dillard’s headquarters, Little Rock Chamber of Commerce, Immanuel Baptist Church, and at the University of Arkansas, Willard J. Walker Hall and J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc. Center for Academic Excellence.
Clark was past chairman of the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees and served on the steering committee for the Campaign for the 21st Century. He held in leadership roles in numerous civic and charitable organizations. Clark loved the outdoors and was an avid duck hunter and golfer. When he died in May 2007, his friends established the William E. Clark Presidential Park Wetlands — 13 acres on the banks of the Arkansas River near the Clinton Library.
While at the University of Arkansas, Jerry Jones was a Razorback football starter and co-captain when the team won the national championship in 1964. In 1971, the North Little Rock native founded Jerry Jones Oil & Gas Co. and continues today to serve as its president and CEO. In 1989, in a downturn economy, Jones purchased the floundering Dallas Cowboys and Texas Stadium for $140 million. He designated himself as general manager and became a “hands-on” owner. In 1993, the Cowboys won their first Super Bowl in 15 seasons. In 1994, they appeared in their seventh Super Bowl, becoming only the fifth NFL team to win back-to-back Super Bowl championships. They again captured Super Bowl XXX in 1996.
Jones’ innovations in the areas of marketing, corporate sponsorships and stadium management have left an imprint on professional sports. He designates the Cowboys’ Thanksgiving Day game to kick off the Salvation Army’s annual Red Kettle Drive. The Gene and Jerry Jones Family Charities are known for their generosity to many other family- and community-related causes. The Walton College gave Jones its Alumni Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005.
James E. “Jim” Lindsey took the lessons learned on the football field, combined them with his extraordinary math abilities, and created a real estate and apartment empire across six states. Lindsey Management Co. and Lindsey & Associates are known for their remarkable innovation in apartment complexes and real estate. Lindsey was on the only Razorback football team to ever win the national championship. In 1966, the 21-year old bought 137 acres in Northwest Arkansas with his Minnesota Vikings signing bonus and sold it for almost six times what he paid to a company that built the Northwest Arkansas Mall on the property. He began building golf courses in his apartment complexes and was inducted into the Arkansas Golf Hall of Fame in 2005.
Lindsey was appointed to the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees in 1999. He is on the Razorback Foundation board and helped build the Jerry Jones/Jim Lindsey Hall of Champions in the Broyles Athletic Complex. In 1999, Lindsey and fellow university board trustee Stanley Reed led the effort to endow the Brandon Burlsworth Memorial Scholarship fund, now worth more than $1.6 million and designated for walk-on football players.
After serving in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1967-70, Tommy May returned to the University of Arkansas to earn a BSBA and MBA from the Walton College. He began his banking career with First National Bank of Commerce in New Orleans in 1972. Upon the formation of Exchange Bancshares Inc. a holding company in El Dorado, Ark., in 1981, he was elected president and CEO. In 1987, he became president and CEO of Simmons First National Bank and president of Simmons First National Corp. Today, the company, with assets of almost $3 billion, owns eight Arkansas community banks, which operate through 86 offices in 48 communities. It is recognized nationally as a major provider of credit card services.
May served on the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees for 10 years and as chair in 2002-03. He also served on the Campaign for the 21st Century Steering Committee, 2010 Commission, Foundation Board, and Board of Advisors. In 2007, May received the University of Arkansas Chancellor’s medal. He serves on the Walton College Dean’s Executive Advisory Board and received the college’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007.