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Retired Dillard's exec donates $250,000 for UA data science program

by Jaime Adame | December 2, 2019 at 12:11 p.m.
Kassandra Salazar (left), a sophomore at the University of Arkansas from Rogers, speaks Tuesday, April 5, 2016, to a group of 11th-grade students from Heritage High School in Rogers as they walk past Old Main while on a tour of the university campus in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE — A $250,000 gift from a retired Dillard’s executive will establish an award that will go to a University of Arkansas, Fayetteville faculty member 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.

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