Biography of Dale Bumpers

The namesake of Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences served with distinction for four years as governor of Arkansas, and then for 24 years in the United States Senate. In 1995, the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees recognized his service by renaming the college in Bumpers’ honor.

“In my years of public service I have been honored many times in many ways,” Bumpers said after the board’s decision. “Other than the honor of being elected governor and senator by the people of Arkansas, this is easily the highest honor ever bestowed upon me.”

Dale Bumpers
Dale Bumpers

During his Senate service, particularly as a member and chair of the Agricultural Appropriations Subcommittee, Bumpers played a major role in bringing Arkansas agriculture into national and international prominence. He worked for and secured more than $80 million in funds for facilities and programs that directly benefited the state.

Bumpers’ efforts in Congress secured federal funding to develop several projects and initiatives in the agricultural, food and life sciences for Arkansas. Among them are:

  • The 112,000-square-foot John W. Tyson Building of the Center of Excellence for Poultry Science, as well as the Poultry Health Laboratory, the Research Feed Mill, the Pilot Processing Plant and the USDA-ARS Poultry Production and Product Safety Research Unit, all based at the Fayetteville campus;
  • The Food Safety Consortium, a research alliance of the U of A, Iowa State University and Kansas State University that was founded by Congress in 1988 to conduct research on the nation’s food safety issues;
  • The National Center for Agricultural Law Research and Information at the U of A School of Law;
  • The Center for Alternative Pest Control at the Fayetteville campus;
  • The National Rice Germplasm Evaluation and Enhancement Center at the U of A Division of Agriculture Rice Research and Extension Center in Stuttgart;
  • The National Center for Resource Innovation-Southwest at the Fayetteville campus;
  • The High Density Electronics Center at the U of A College of Engineering.

After his retirement from the Senate, Bumpers served as director of the Center for Defense Information. He also served as Distinguished Professor of Public Policy at the University of Arkansas, and Guest Lecturer at Hendrix College. In the year 2000, in a poll of Arkansas political scientists, Bumpers was the only governor in the 20th century to achieve the station of “great.”

Bumpers is affiliated with the Arent Fox law firm in Washington, where his legal and public policy practice includes providing strategic counsel and advice to corporate, trade association, non-profit and organizational clients on a broad range of international and government relations issues.

Bumpers was born Aug. 12, 1925, in Charleston, Ark. He attended the University of Arkansas, spent three years in the Marine Corps during World War II, earned a law degree at Northwestern University and returned home in 1952 with his wife, Betty. In Charleston, he practiced law, raised cattle and operated a small hardware, furniture, and appliance store. He also served as city attorney, school board president and president of the Chamber of Commerce. He was elected governor in 1970 and senator in 1974. In 2003, his book The Best Lawyer in a One-Lawyer Town: A Memoir was released.