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Walton College

The Sam M. Walton College of Business

Blockchain Center Welcomes First Five Companies to Executive Advisory Board

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October 17, 2018

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The Blockchain Center of Excellence has officially welcomed the first five companies to join its executive advisory board.

The companies – ArcBest Technologies, IBM, J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc., Tyson Foods and Walmart – were given their official welcome Sept. 28 after working with officials at the Sam M. Walton College of business over several months to chart the founding and future of the center.

“This was a moment of celebration and gratitude,” said Mary Lacity, center director and Walton Professor of Information Systems. “The individuals from these five companies have been working with the Department of Information Systems for more than a year to help guide the center’s mission and values.”

The five companies and key individuals involved with founding the center are:

ArcBest Technologies

  • Dave Cogswell, vice president and CTO

  • Leo Sharum, vice president and CIO


  • Misty Decker, program manager, zSystems Academic Initiative

  • Mariels Winhoffer, vice president and global managing director, and IBM Senior State Executive for Arkansas

J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc.

  • Gary Dowdy, head of innovation and disruptive technologies

  • Daniel Trimble, senior expert software engineer

  • Jay Davidson, recently retired vice president of technology

Tyson Foods

  • Lee Slezak, vice president of IT architecture

  • Chad Wahlquist, director of emerging technology


  • Archana Mehta Sristy, director, engineering, Global Business Services

  • Karl Bedwell,senior director II, global business services and technology

Standing from left to right: Kevin Yoder of ArcBest, Daniel Trimble of J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc., Zach Steelman of the Sam M. Walton College of Business, Karl Bedwell of Walmart, Mary Lacity of Walton College, Paul Cronan of Walton College, Jay Davidson of J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc., Chad Wahlquist of Tyson Foods, Archana Mehta Sristy of Walmart, Lee Slezak of Tyson Foods and David Douglas of Walton College. Seated: Rhonda Syler of Walton College, Leo Sharum of ArcBest and Misty Decker of IBM.

The five founding companies also helped identify the next five organizations to invite to join the board. “They chose members that would complement, diversify and deepen the business and blockchain expertise,” Lacity said. “We’ll announce the next five new board members next quarter.”

Blockchain applications use a crowd of independent computers to secure a permanent record of transactions. This method allows participants to verify and audit transactions inexpensively, eliminating the need for an intermediary. This new way to design applications is still immature yet evolving quickly.  The center will encourage research on blockchain’s impact and implementation to help it become a mainstream tool for business.

The University of Arkansas Board of Trustees and the Arkansas Department of Higher Education officially approved the center in May.


Walton College

Walton College of Business

Since its founding at the University of Arkansas in 1926, the Sam M. Walton College of Business has grown to become the state's premier college of business – as well as a nationally competitive business school. Learn more...

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