A Q&A with Fulbright College Alumna and Donor Sue Walk Burnett

by | Jan 13, 2020 | Dean's Corner, Faces of Fulbright, Gifts, Q & A

Sue Walk Burnett
President of Burnett Specialists,
1968 Graduate of the School of Journalism and Strategic Media

In this conversation, Burnett talks about how her studies in journalism helped her develop a successful personnel placement company; how exciting and meaningful it has been to create scholarship opportunities for students, and to build the new Sue Walk Burnett Journalism and Student Media Center; and how much she enjoys working with her colleagues and traveling the world with her husband, Rusty.

Sue Walk Burnett and partnerQ: Can you tell us a little about your career, what you studied in college, and how the two relate to one another?

After I graduated, I moved to Houston Texas in 1970. I went to work for a personnel placement company and became manager at the age of 24.

In 1974, I started my own placement company and we celebrated our 45th anniversary last summer. Our company has grown to 10 offices in five Texas cities.

I studied journalism in college and worked for KATV in Little Rock the year that I graduated. Then I wrote speeches for Associated Milk Producers for a year before I moved to Houston.

Both of those jobs plus my journalism studies have really helped me in building my company. We have always done a lot of advertising. The first few years of the business I wrote all of the ads and I still review all of the advertising that our company does.

Sue Walk Burnett and partnerQ: What have been one or two of the most interesting or exciting accomplishments for you in your career or life post-college?

Being named Texas Business Woman of the Year, a U of A Distinguished Alum, to the School of Journalism and Strategic Media’s Hall of Fame, and being able to donate a building in my name to the journalism school are certainly highlights in my life.

Q: What was one of your favorite memories of your time at the college and why?

Being a Chi Omega was one of my best college memories.

I have stayed active as an alum and 15 of my sorority sisters came to the dedication of my building in 2018.

Sue Walk Burnett with Razorback mascots and other award winnerQ: What has inspired your gifts to the college, and what does being able to give mean to you?

I have been involved with the journalism school for the last 18 years.

It started with the donation of the library for the journalism building and then I started giving five scholarships a year to journalism students.

Larry Foley, the head of the journalism school, told me a few years ago that they needed a new television station for the school, and I agreed to donate the building.

That donation led to the UA Board of Directors re-doing the entire Kimpel Hall.

Sue Walk Burnett and partnerQ: What opportunities do you hope your gifts are able to create for students?

It is exciting to see the new building and the students using the newsroom and television station.

It has already increased enrollment in the journalism school since the entire building has been redone.

Since my first job was with a television station, it is wonderful to be able to see the state-of-the-art television station the university has now.

Q: Now that you’ve achieved so much in your career, what advice would you give to students?

My advice to students is to keep an open mind about your career. You may end up doing something that you never thought of doing.

My career in personnel placement has been wonderful and I still enjoy going to work after 50 years in the industry.

Sue Walk Burnett and partnerQ: What do you like to do during your time outside of work?

My husband Rusty and I enjoy traveling all over the world and we have been fortunate to visit 80 countries. I also serve on several nonprofit boards in Houston.

Q: What’s up next on the horizon for you?

I plan to continue working as long as my health is good, and I still want to work.

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to add or let readers know?

In 2010, Rusty and I did an Employee Stock Ownership Plan for our employees. We have given all of our stock to our employees and to over 500 temporary employees who work for the company.

Now hundreds of our employees will have a generous retirement plan as a result of the ESOP.

Andra Parrish Liwag

Director of Communications, J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences 

479-575-4393 // liwag@uark.edu