Groundbreaking Marks Construction Milestone for Alice L. Walton School of Medicine

AWSOM leadership team at groundbreaking ceremony
Alice L. Walton School of Medicine Leadership Team at Groundbreaking Ceremony; Ironside Photography

Bentonville, Ark. (March 30, 2023) – Today, Alice L. Walton School of Medicine (AWSOM) celebrated the commencement of construction on 14 acres of land dedicated to the new medical education facility. The Groundbreaking Ceremony featured remarks from the newly announced Founding Dean & CEO, Dr. Sharmila Makhija, Founder and Philanthropist, Alice Walton, and others.

Founded in 2021, Alice L. Walton School of Medicine will offer a four-year medical degree program that builds on conventional medicine with a compassionate, inclusive, and whole health approach. Pending programmatic accreditation by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education, the School plans to welcome the first class of 48 students in 2025. The School of Medicine will be located east of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas, and connected through the trails.

“Northwest Arkansas is unique in its entrepreneurial spirit, focus on quality of life, natural resources, and thriving art scene,” said School of Medicine Founder, Alice Walton. “This campus will bring together nature, art, innovation, and well-being to create an inspiring environment for learning.”

“This building will be a place for community and a bridge to the future of medical education,” said Dr. Sharmila Makhija, Founding Dean and CEO, Alice L. Walton School of Medicine. “The School is poised to be a state-of-the-art learning facility, connected to nature and the community. Alongside our health system partners and neighbors, we’ll activate students and reshape medical education by addressing mental, physical, social, and emotional health.”

The 154,000 square-foot building project is led by Arkansas-based firm Polk Stanley Wilcox. The building design features four levels and will include learning halls, a public gallery, library, clinical teaching spaces, administrative offices, a student lounge, theater, recreation and wellness areas, and underground parking as well as an entry-level parking area for visitors.

“We’re excited about the transformational impact that this site-responsive building and surrounding park will have for the community,” said Wesley Walls, AIA, Principal, Polk Stanley Wilcox. “And we’re eager to witness how its innovative design will impact and equip future generations of health care professionals and the well-being of Arkansans.”

Conceived as an extension of the surrounding forest, the School’s trails extend onto the School’s campus to support biking, stewardship of regional ecology, and community connections. The site’s landscape features include healing gardens, outdoor classrooms, urban farming space, and a rooftop terrace that connects to a cafe and amphitheater. Outdoor features including the rooftop park and surrounding site are designed by NYC-based design studio OSD.


About Alice L. Walton School of Medicine 

Founded in 2021 and seeking accreditation, Alice L. Walton School of Medicine will offer a four-year, medical degree-granting program that builds upon an evidence-based curriculum and integrates a compassionate, inclusive, and whole health approach to care for not only patients, but also students, faculty, and staff. Taught by leading medical practitioners and scientific minds, the first-of-its-kind medical school will help students rise to the health challenges of the 21st century with a focus on physical, mental, social, and emotional health. Currently, the School of Medicine is seeking programmatic and institutional accreditation with the goal of welcoming its inaugural class in 2025. Learn more at


Media Contact:

Beth Bobbitt

rendering of Alice L. Walton School of Medicine
Rendering of Alice L. Walton School of Medicine, Aerial View to Southwest by Polk Stanley Wilcox and OSD
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