J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc. (NASDAQ: JBHT) announced a $2.25 million collaboration with the Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas Tuesday.
The collaboration will fund the exploration of sustainable business practices and solutions for current and future challenges the supply chain industry faces, a release said. It also targets increased inclusion and diversity across the supply chain.
“At the highest level, we want to bring [environmental, social and governance] concepts to the forefront of education and research in supply chain management, and it’s not there,” Matt Waller, the dean of Walton College, said in an interview with FreightWaves. Waller said this is an industry-level problem that will take collaboration among multiple universities along with companies like J.B. Hunt.
The J.B. Hunt Innovation Center of Excellence will reallocate $750,000, and J.B. Hunt will add a gift of $1.5 million to the university, according to the release.
The $2.25 million will be split between two funds for the Department of Supply Chain Management in the Walton College of Business.
Students, faculty and external partners from historically underrepresented backgrounds will be supported through the J.B. Hunt Inclusion Education and Thought Leadership Fund, Waller said. According to the release, a contribution of $1.25 million will go to enhancing diversity, equity and inclusion efforts.
J.B. Hunt said the $1 million contribution to its Sustainable Supply Chain Management Research, Innovation and Education Fund will support environmental, social and governance issues. Waller said this fund will help the supply chain management department explore more sustainable business practices and emphasized that “it’s about the industry, not the university.”
“While many Walton College students will go on to work for J.B. Hunt, many others will lead in other companies. So J.B. Hunt’s willingness to innovate stretches far beyond its walls and impacts the entire economy. That’s visionary innovation at its finest,” Waller said in a statement.
“The amount of research and collaboration that can go on with this gift is immeasurable,” he told FreightWaves.
Walton College’s undergraduate supply chain program ranked No. 1 in North America by Gartner in 2020. Supply chain students are required to complete a paid internship before graduation, which gives them a head start, Waller said in an interview with FreightWaves earlier this year. He said Walton College benefits from its close proximity to large companies including Walmart and Sam’s Club.
J.B. Hunt and the University of Arkansas previously joined forces in 2017, when J.B. Hunt provided a $2.75 million grant to the Walton College of Business and the College of Engineering through the J.B. Hunt Innovation Center of Excellence. The goal of this five-year funded center is to increase efficiency through innovation in supply chain management and develop solutions facing the industry.
J.B. Hunt’s Environmental Report shares some of the company’s sustainability achievements, including filling over 1 million empty miles through its J.B. Hunt 360 platform in 2019. J.B. Hunt diverted nearly 3.2 million metric tons of CO2 emissions from being released by converting over-the-road shipments to intermodal in 2019, according to the report.