Established in 2005, the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute is the former home and working farm of Gov. Winthrop Rockefeller, who first came to Arkansas in 1953 and transformed the state’s politics, economy and the way we think about ourselves. Governor Rockefeller used his name and his wealth to bring people together on Petit Jean Mountain for summit-style meetings to find solutions to the toughest issues facing Arkansas—an approach that was so successful he used it more than 200 times, bringing together people who were thoughtfully concerned about Arkansas’s future. The Institute serves to honor Governor Rockefeller’s belief in the power of collaboration by making sure those conversations continue to happen, and that we never stop asking the big questions about our future.
The Institute takes two approaches to this goal. First, by convening important programs, often working with fellow organizations within the University of Arkansas System, to help drive discovery, dialogue and resolution for some of Arkansas’s most important topics and issues. Programs engage primarily in five foundational areas: agriculture, arts and humanities, civic engagement, economic development and health. Programs utilize a wide range of models from ongoing initiatives such as Healthy Active Arkansas and Uncommon Communities, and academic conferences such as the Nanotechnology for Health Care Conference. Programs often engage leaders in government, academia, policy and culture to consider a brighter future for our state.
Second, the pastoral campus is located on a portion of Governor Rockefeller’s original home and cattle farm. New structures have been erected and historic ones have been renovated to create a premier conference and retreat center. Meeting space can be booked for use by outside groups, and the tranquil, scenic setting, along with Governor Rockefeller’s “productive energy” that still permeates the campus, makes it an ideal place for strategic meetings and retreats.