University of Arkansas

Walton College

The Sam M. Walton College of Business

William L. Cravens


William L. Cravens

Oaklawn Jockey Club
Little Rock, Arkansas


Somehow, when Bill Cravens tells his story of how a University of Arkansas-trained industrial engineer ended up with a career-spanning relationship with the Oaklawn Jockey Club, spent time working as a certified public accountant, ran and merged banks and then came out of a heart-attack-induced retirement to guide Alltel Information Services and help found a community bank, it all adds up. That’s probably because of a saying he considers his guiding principle:  “Go fix things.”

After graduating from the University of Arkansas with a Bachelor of Science degree in industrial engineering, he worked for General Electric in a job that took him to Kentucky, Massachusetts, Illinois and back to Arkansas. He moved to Little Rock to become a partner in the Russell Brown & Company firm as a certified public accountant. In 1976, he moved to the First National Bank in Little Rock, becoming its president and chief executive officer. At the same time, he became a director of the Oaklawn Jockey Club, a position he still holds. He was instrumental in the merger of the First National Bank and Commercial National Bank, forming First Commercial Bank.

He later joined Worthen Banking Corp., guiding it to a successful recovery and sale. After a brief retirement, Cravens returned as vice-chairman and later chairman of Alltel Information Systems. He also later helped establish Pinnacle Bank, where he served as chairman. He is a long-time supporter of the University of Arkansas, being honored in 2006 by induction into the College of Engineering hall of fame.


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