University of Arkansas alumna Janet Ryan Stegall and her husband, Bob, believe entrepreneurship inspires innovation and creativity. To support entrepreneurship efforts at the university, the Dallas couple made a $100,000 gift to create the Janet Ryan Stegall and Bob Stegall Entrepreneurship Fund in the Sam M. Walton College of Business.
Janet Ryan Stegall is a native of North Little Rock and attended private school throughout her formative years. However, she knew she wanted to attend a public university.
“I made the case to my parents that attending the University of Arkansas would give me connectivity to the business world in Arkansas,” she said. “The connections you make in college will carry with you through your career. I utilized those connections in Arkansas for 10 years. Now, even in Dallas, they still make a difference.”
Stegall works at U.S. Trust, which is Bank of America’s private wealth management division. It’s a position, she says, that has given her the opportunity to work with clients who started their own companies.
“I have a core belief that the United States was built from small businesses,” she said. “Many of my clients did not come from great wealth but have created great wealth. The entrepreneurship journey often fosters a strong belief in giving back.”
Bob Stegall, who grew up in Little Rock, is equally passionate about entrepreneurship, thanks to his father, who was a small-business owner in Little Rock for over 30 years. The Southern Methodist University graduate is president and chief operating officer of WorkRecords, an entrepreneurial venture that offers multi-sided network platforms for the hourly labor workforce and the businesses they serve.
“Great innovation often comes from individuals and small companies,” he said. “We want to encourage future entrepreneurs to dream big.”
The Janet Ryan Stegall and Bob Stegall Entrepreneurship Fund will allow future entrepreneurs to do just that by providing faculty and student support, program support and even facility support, particularly through the university’s Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation.
The office is led by Carol Reeves, associate vice provost for entrepreneurship, and has achieved worldwide acclaim due to its numerous student achievements, including recognition in Investor’s Digest, Fortune, The New York Times, cnnMoney.com and the NASDAQ.
“We appreciate this generous gift from Janet Ryan Stegall and Bob Stegall to support entrepreneurship and innovation at the Walton College and at the University of Arkansas,” said Matt Waller, Walton College dean and holder of the Sam M. Walton Chair in Leadership. “Gifts such as this encourage students to pursue their dreams and start businesses that drive the economy of the state and provide good jobs for Arkansans.”
Jim Rankin, vice provost for research and economic development, said, “The University of Arkansas strives to be an economic development engine. This gift from the Stegalls is an important contribution that will help the university educate our next generation of entrepreneurs to lead us in economic development.”
Janet Ryan Stegall serves on the Dean’s Executive Advisory Board for the Walton College and co-chairs the college’s Campaign Arkansas committee. She and Bob have three nephews in attendance at the U of A.
“You can see the passion for the U of A in our family,” she said. “When you’re from Arkansas, there’s a connection and you want to find ways to be involved and help the state grow.”