Gov. Mike Beebe and Mrs. Johnelle Hunt will be honored by the University of Arkansas.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – On Friday, April 25, the University of Arkansas will honor Gov. Mike Beebe as this year’s Chancellor’s Medal recipient and Mrs. Johnelle Hunt as the Volunteer of the Year. The private dinner and reception will take place at the Governor’s Mansion in Little Rock.

The Chancellor’s Medal is awarded to individuals whose service to higher education and society-at-large has been truly extraordinary. In September 2007, Beebe announced a college grant program designed to attract late blooming high school students of limited financial means. The GO! Opportunities Grant is Arkansas’ first state-funded college grant program based solely on financial need. The Arkansas General Assembly approved $18.4 million for the scholarship grants over the next two years. The grant is available to high school graduates as well as to those who earn a General Education Development degree. The GO! Opportunities Grant can give students up to $4,000 to help pay for their education at eligible Arkansas schools.

Just days after assuming the governor’s office, Beebe submitted a balanced budget for the state’s general revenue, culminating in the greatest tax relief in Arkansas history by cutting the state sales tax on groceries in half, while increasing the Homestead Property Tax Credit to ease the burden of homeownership. Beebe’s goals include promoting policies that will further economic development, providing excellence in education for Arkansas children and reforming the state’s system of health care.

“Awarding Mike Beebe with this year’s Chancellor’s Medal was an easy decision,” said Chancellor John A. White. “He is clearly committed to the advancement of higher education and the betterment of our state. He is fully aware of the needs that exist in funding education, and he is taking steps toward easing that burden for students. He is a founding member of the University of Arkansas 2010 Commission and played a key role until his election as governor. We look forward to recognizing all he has done and will continue to do as governor.”

Beebe earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Arkansas State University in Jonesboro in 1968, and completed law school at the University of Arkansas in 1972, while serving his country in the U.S. Army Reserves. He is an active member of Trinity Episcopal Church in Searcy, where he has served as a senior warden and member of the vestry. He and his wife, Ginger, have three adult children.

The Volunteer of the Year Award recognizes extraordinary loyalty, service and leadership to the University of Arkansas and its programs. This year, the University of Arkansas is honoring Johnelle Debusk Hunt. She and her late husband, J.B. Hunt, have given of their time and resources to the university for years. Mrs. Hunt currently serves on the university’s Board of Advisors, and she is a member of the Chancellor’s Society and the Women’s Giving Circle. During the Campaign for the Twenty-First Century, Mrs. Hunt served as treasurer on the Campaign Steering Committee. In 2005, Mr. and Mrs. Hunt committed $5 million toward the construction of a new, progressive facility, later named the J.B. Hunt Transport Services, Inc. Center for Academic Excellence.

Johnelle Hunt is also very involved in the northwest Arkansas community. She has supported many local, statewide and national efforts including the Susan G. Komen Foundation’s Ozark Race for the Cure, the United Way and the Washington Regional Medical Foundation. She has also served on the Arkansas Economic Development Commission.

“Johnelle Hunt has been a valued volunteer and dear friend of the University of Arkansas for many years,” said White. “She and J.B. have shown endless dedication to this institution, and it is wonderful to have the name of the company they created on one of our new facilities. Every time students walk into that building, they will be reminded of the Hunts’ love for the University of Arkansas.”