The Deeper Value of Being Ranked #1

Animated group crowd with female holding "#1 Supply Chain (Gartner)" sign
June 23 , 2022  |  By Stephen Caldwell

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Having the top-ranked undergraduate supply chain management program in North America is an honor for the University of Arkansas, but there’s something even more significant about the award than the prestige that comes with it.  

Faculty, staff, students, and alumni at the Sam M. Walton College of Business rightly take pride in the recognition, but they know that what matters most is how the program impacts students, the companies that hire them, and, ultimately, the consumers and communities that benefit from their work. 

Gartner, a global research and advisory firm, has ranked the Walton College undergraduate program No. 1 in North America in two consecutive rating cycles (2020 and 2022). And a big reason why Gartner finds the program so special is that it excels in the qualities that matter to industry.  

In announcing its rankings for 2022, Gartner described the Arkansas program as “dominant” in part because the curriculum continuously adapts to the needs of the industry – “hitting all the marks that supply chain leaders tell [Gartner] that [universities] need to hit to develop the supply chain professionals of the future.”  

In other words, the top supply chain programs advance the discipline and produce graduates who are well-equipped for the challenges and opportunities of the fast-paced, ever-changing industry. 

The three main criteria Gartner uses when scoring university supply chain programs are industry value, program size, and program scope. Within those, Gartner gives the UA high marks for problem-solving and industry experiential learning in classes and internships, as well as for diversity efforts and initiatives.  

The Walton College has been teaching supply chain and logistics courses for years, but the department wasn’t founded until 2011. Now it not only has the top-ranked undergraduate program, but one of the top-ranked Master’s degree programs. It’s also a leader in executive education and a top research institution

The undergraduate program provides the foundation. And to fully understand what this program provides students and the industry, here are a few helpful links: 

How We Became the No. 1 Undergraduate Supply Chain Management Program,” by Department Chair Brian Fugate. This was published when Gartner ranked the program No. 1 in 2020 but remains relevant today. It takes a more detailed look at Gartner’s criteria and how the Arkansas program aligns with it. 

The Supply Chain Management Curriculum Model. This graphic clearly and concisely shows the Walton College’s approach to supply chain education. 

‘Making the Pieces Fit’ Key for Supply Chain Management Students,” by Stephen Caldwell. This is an overview of what students learn by pursuing a degree in supply chain management. 

The Strategic Value of Internship Programs,” by Associate Professor Rod Thomas. This looks at the benefits internships provide to both students and employers. 

From Homemade Sign to Supply Chain Superstar,” by Stephen Caldwell. This shares the story of “The Sign” and how this impromptu marketing campaign allowed supply chain management alumni all over the country to express their pride in the No. 1 ranking. 

The Department of Supply Chain Management. This is the department’s home page, and it includes links to more information on the curriculum, the faculty, industry value, and global initiatives. 

Supply chain student organizations. This page provides information and links to several organizations, including Women Impacting Supply Chain Excellence (WISE). 

Women and Collaboration in the Supply Chain,” by Professor John Aloysius. This recaps research that supports the business case for hiring more women in supply chain roles. 

The Supply Chain Management Research Center promotes collaborations between faculty, students and industry. 

The Walton College hosts the CSCMP Hall of Fame, which not only shines a light on the greatest supply chain innovators but inspires current and future professionals. 

Building Bridges to the Future: The Recent Development of Northwest Arkansas’ Supply Chain Cluster” and “The Land of Opportunity: The Beginnings of Northwest Arkansas’ Supply Chain Cluster,” both by Ron Gordon of the SCMRC.  These articles explore the history and impact of the supply chain ecosystem in Northwest Arkansas. 

The Walton College Supply Chain Management YouTube channel. This page provides a variety of videos about supply chain management, including lessons faculty of any university can use in their classes. 

If you want up-to-the minute information about the program, these LinkedIn accounts are worth following:  

The Department of Supply Chain Management account 

Walton College Dean Matthew Waller 

SCM Department Chair Brian Fugate 

Undergraduate Program Rod Thomas 

CSCMP Half of Fame Executive Director Remko van Hoek 

WISE Executive Director Stephanie Thomas 

The SCM Research Center account 

Master’s program director David Dobrzykowski 

Stephen CaldwellStephen Caldwell is Chief Word Architect for WordBuilders, Inc., where he spends most of his time helping clients discover, craft, and share the messages of their hearts. In addition to writing and editing for newspapers, magazines, and on numerous book projects, he has developed leadership and functional training for Fortune 500 companies. He lives in Fayetteville, Arkansas.