University Chancellor to Lead Northwest Arkansas Council

The University of Arkansas chancellor takes over as the Northwest Arkansas Council’s presiding co-chair for the next year.

The Council announced the additional role being taken on by Joseph E. Steinmetz after the nonprofit organization’s annual meeting today in Bentonville. Steinmetz became a member of the Council’s Executive Committee shortly after becoming chancellor in early 2016.

Donnie Smith, the Northwest Arkansas Council's presiding co-chair for the past year, looks on as Joseph E. Steinmetz talks about what he hopes to accomplish as the organization's presiding co-chair for the next year.

Donnie Smith, the Northwest Arkansas Council's presiding co-chair for the past year, looks on as Joseph E. Steinmetz talks about what he hopes to accomplish as the organization's presiding co-chair for the next year.

“I’m looking forward to my term as presiding co-chair of the Northwest Arkansas Council,” Steinmetz said. “Higher education has a role in the vibrancy and vitality of a region. In addition to providing education, research and outreach – colleges and universities also contribute to the cultural amenities, intellectual capital, talent and workforce development that are great for business and great for life. My plan is to encourage ways in which the community can collaborate with higher education for mutual benefit.

“All the ingredients for success are right here in Northwest Arkansas and the opportunity to work alongside such impassioned leaders across industry sectors is invigorating.”

The Council last month announced the hiring of Nelson Peacock as the organization's president and CEO. He begins work later this month.

Steinmetz is the third University of Arkansas chancellor to lead the Council, and he takes over for former Tyson Foods President and CEO Donnie Smith as presiding co-chair. The chancellors who led the Council in previous years were John A. White and David Gearhart.

Alice Walton led the Council, which was founded in 1990, in its formative years. U.S. Rep. John Paul Hammerschmidt, who retired as a member of Congress in 1993, took over the chairman’s role that same year. He served until 2006.

The Council shifted to the presiding co-chair system that same year, inviting Northwest Arkansas leaders to take turns heading the organization in one-year stints. Previous presiding co-chairs were John Tyson, Lee Scott, Kirk Thompson, Mark Simmons, Rosalind Brewer, Jim Walton, White and Gearhart.