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FAYETTEVILLE -- A $250,000 gift from a retired Dillard's executive will establish an annual award for University of Arkansas, Fayetteville faculty working in data science.

Kent Burnett is making the gift to help UA faculty members with their teaching and research. A new bachelor's degree program in data science will begin in fall 2020 at the university.

"We can compete with anyone in the world in analytics and big data, and I'm excited about the opportunities there," Burnett, a former chief information officer for Dillard's, said in a statement released by the university. "Corporations have a need for more and better data, as well as people who can use the software. The U of A can be competitive in this area."

Burnett, who retired from Dillard's in 2016, grew up in Mena and earned a bachelor's degree in industrial engineering from UA. He and his wife, Deborah, live in Greenbrier.

Jennifer Holland, a UA spokeswoman, said the first G. Kent and Deborah D. Burnett Endowed Faculty Excellence Award in Data Science will be given out following fulfillment of the gift pledge and after enough funding accrues from the endowed gift. The university estimates a 4% return on the endowment to be used for the annual awards, Holland said.

The awards will go to faculty in the UA College of Engineering.

Metro on 12/03/2019

Print Headline: Ex-Dillard's exec endows UA chair

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