Southern Arkansas University - the most affordable, fastest growing university in Arkansas

College of Business

2021 Inductees
Mr. John Turner

Mr. John Turner ’55 currently residing in Arlington, Virginia, is a native of Camden, Arkansas. A retired vice president at Georgia-Pacific, John is a Southern Arkansas University Distinguished Alumnus and a charter member of the original Business Advisory Council for the SAU School of Business Administration.

John had a distinguished career at Georgia-Pacific. He was public affairs officer in Crossett, Arkansas, and then moved to Georgia-Pacific’s Washington, D. C. headquarters.  During his time in Washington, D.C., his roles included director for regional affairs, legislative liason, and manager for governmental affairs.

John and his wife Jeannie McFadden Turner ’55 were the first couple to fully endow a professorship through the SAU Foundation, the Jean McFadden Turner Professorship dedicated to supporting the Business College.

Ms. Alvarene G. Peace
Ms. Alvarene G. Peace ’40 was a graduate of Emerson High School and a native of Magnolia, Arkansas. She earned her Associate in Arts degree from Southern State, Bachelor of Science at Oklahoma City University, and her Master of Business Administration from Southern Methodist University, joining the faculty in 1965 and retiring in 1994. Additional positions included time as a junior economist for the Bureau of Labor Statistics and administrative assistant of the civilian personnel division of the Office of the Secretary of War at Dallas, Texas, and secretary at the First National Bank of Magnolia. Active in the community and the university, Ms. Peace was president of the Magnolia Music Club, a member of the Arkansas Education Association, and chair of the J. M. Peace Library Committee. She was listed in the “Who’s Who Among American Women.”
2020 Inductees
Murphy Oil Corporation

As an independent exploration and production company, Murphy Oil Corporation’s footprint reaches far beyond its southern Arkansas roots where it began operations in the early 1900s. Over multiple decades, Murphy Oil has provided strong support for Southern Arkansas University and the Rankin College of Business. Until 2020, its corporate headquarters were located in El Dorado when global offices were then consolidated to Houston.

Murphy Oil Corporation believes in providing energy that empowers people by doing right always, staying with it and thinking beyond possible. Murphy challenges the norm, taps into its strong legacy and uses its foresight and financial discipline to deliver inspired energy solutions. The company sees a future where it is an industry leader who is positively impacting lives for the next 100 years and beyond.

For many years Murphy Oil has supported Southern Arkansas University through numerous initiatives, including the Murphy Lecture Series. The Company has employed many Southern Arkansas University graduates and to this day continues to support education in the El Dorado community by providing scholarships through the El Dorado Promise.

Dr. David F. Rankin

Dr. David F. Rankin earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Arkansas, an MBA from Louisiana Tech University, and a PhD in Finance from the University of Mississippi. He also holds the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation. He retired as President of SAU on June 30, 2015 after holding the role for 13 years. Other university roles included Dean of the College of Business, Professor of Finance and Economics, Puterbaugh Professor, Chair of the Department of Economics and Finance, and SAU Honor Professor in 1986. As President, his “Blue and Gold Vision” campaign produced more than $100 million for numerous campus buildings, projects, and initiatives. With the addition of The Laney Farm and the 400-acre Ted Monroe Farm, the University more than doubled in size to 1,892 acres. He served in various roles including Economic Advisor to three Arkansas Governors, Chairman of the Governor’s Council of Economic Advisors, Chairman of the Golden Triangle Economic Development Council, and pilot Chairman of the Magnolia Airport Commission. He is a George Washington Honor Medal recipient from the Freedoms Foundation for Excellence in Economic Education in Valley Forge. In 2018, he authored What Every American Needs to Know About Economics.

Mr. Ronald LeMay

Mr. Ronald LeMay ’67 is a successful corporate executive, serial entrepreneur and early-stage investor with over 50 years of experience.

Ron serves as Managing Director and Co-Founder of OpenAir Equity Partners and CEO of one of its portfolio companies, Main Street Data, and Chairman of many of its other portfolio companies. 

Previously, Ron served as President – COO of Sprint.  As Sprint PCS’s first employee and CEO, Ron guided it from start-up to $10B in annual revenues faster than any company in U.S. history. Growing it to 35,000 employees in slightly more than 4 years. Upon retiring from Sprint in 2003, he served as CEO of Japan Telecom. He orchestrated a turn-around and successful sale to SoftBank, producing the highest Internal Rate of Return of any multi-billion dollar private equity exit.  Ron is a co-Founder of GoGo Inflight Internet Services, Hyla Mobile, and Conexon Connect. He has served on 8 public company boards and numerous private company boards.

A native of Arkansas, Ron attended Southern Arkansas University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree and was named Tri C Outstanding Business Student.  He also graduated with honors from the University of Arkansas School of Law. 

Ron is a strong supporter of the Rankin College of Business and SAU, endowing the Ronald T. LeMay Professorship in Business Management.

Ron and his wife reside in Kansas City and spend time enjoying their seven grandchildren.

2019 Inductees
Mr. Louis J. Blanchard

Mr. Louis J. Blanchard came to SAU (then Southern State College) in 1956 as a professor of accounting. An outstanding and memorable teacher, he was selected as Honor Professor by his SAU peers and named Professor Emeritus.  The Arkansas Society of CPAs named Mr. Blanchard as the Educator of the Year in 1998 and also awarded him the Lifetime Achievement Award in Accounting. Mr. Blanchard retired in 1998 after teaching for 42 years in the School of Business and serving as chair of the Accounting department.  After retirement Louis continued to be active at the University, serving on the SAU Board of Trustees, the SAU Foundation Board of Governors, and the Mulerider Club Advisory Board. In 2017, SAU and the SAU Foundation honored Louis and Martha Blanchard by naming the SAU business building Blanchard Hall.

Dr. Ron J. Ponder

Dr. Ron J. Ponder graduated from SAU in 1965 with his BBA in Industrial Management. He subsequently earned his MBA from Louisiana Tech and PhD from Mississippi State University. During his career, Dr. Ponder served as a senior information technology executive in several Fortune 100 companies across a variety of industries. He held senior leadership positions at Federal Express, Sprint, AT&T, and WellPoint. He helped Federal Express introduce its worldwide package tracking and tracing systems; oversaw the modernization of Sprint and AT&T’s voice and data networks; and during his tenure as executive vice president and CIO helped WellPoint become the nation’s largest medical insurance carrier in the U.S. In 2006 Ron founded an Information Technology consulting firm that specializes in managing large-scale business and government technology program implementations, information technology group transformations, and providing leadership on troubled projects.

Peoples Bank

Peoples Bank is a locally owned community bank founded in 1910. The bank and its owners, including DJ and the late Harold Fincher, maintain a strong commitment to the Magnolia community and SAU. The bank and its staff participate in the Relay for Life, Magnolia Blossom Festival, Circle of Friends, Leadership Magnolia, and the Magnolia Junior Charity League, among other community activities. Peoples Bank provides support for SAU and Rankin College of Business in a variety of ways. These include projects that help students in the form of scholarships for tuition and travel and faculty through a professorship and most recently the University’s first Endowed Dean’s Chair. The bank employs many SAU graduates and provides internship opportunities for students.

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