Arkansas Medical Society Distinguished Dean’s Chair

Introducing the campaign to establish the Arkansas Medical Society Distinguished Dean’s Chair in the UAMS College of Medicine
Honoring the pivotal role of our deans in our past, present and future

Shared Roots, Enduring Commitment to Arkansas

The UAMS College of Medicine and the Arkansas Medical Society (AMS) share common roots extending all the way back to the 1870s—and an ongoing commitment to improve health care in Arkansas through education, training and support for the very best physicians. The AMS has supported the College of Medicine and Arkansas’ future physicians in countless ways through the decades. Now, the AMS is making a transformative investment in support of an endowment that will benefit Arkansas’ future physicians—and their future patients—in perpetuity.

More than 135 years after the college’s founding, 174 students aspiring to become physicians enter the College of Medicine as freshmen each year. The responsibility for educating and training them, as well as advancing biomedical knowledge that improves health, ultimately falls on the shoulders of the Dean of the UAMS College of Medicine.

College of Medicine freshmen don the traditional symbol of medical professionalism at the annual White Coat Ceremony.

The AMS Distinguished Dean’s Chair is Essential

Through the generosity of countless philanthropists, grateful patients, dedicated faculty members, alumni and other contributors, the number of endowed chairs and professorships at UAMS has grown from one in 1975 to well over 100 today. The vast majority of these endowments support the innovative work of College of Medicine faculty members.

However, the College of Medicine does not yet have an endowed chair designated for its most important academic post, the Dean. The Arkansas Medical Society Distinguished Dean’s Chair will appropriately recognize the vital role of the Dean, the college and the AMS to the state of Arkansas. The AMS Distinguished Dean’s Chair will help all Deans, from this day forward, to feel a connection with the thread of history and long legacy of all previous deans. The Chair will serve as a recruiting tool for future Deans, adding eminence to the post that serves as leverage for attracting and securing the very best candidates.

Through investment earnings, the $1.5 million endowment for the AMS Distinguished Dean’s Chair will help support each Dean’s vision for the college, medical education, biomedical research and clinical care—in perpetuity. More than just a powerful symbol, the Chair will be a practical resource for advancing the College of Medicine’s vital mission in Arkansas.

First home: the Sperindio

The Legacy of Our Deans

The College of Medicine’s first Principal and President of the Faculty—in essence, the first Dean—was Dr. Philo Oliver Hooper. Also a founder of the Arkansas Medical Society, the Philadelphia-educated Little Rock physician worked with seven other visionaries to open the state’s first and much-needed medical school in 1879.

It may come as a surprise that many of the students who enrolled during Dr. Hooper’s tenure failed to meet the rigor of the program and were not awarded a degree. Dr. Hooper was not one to lower standards. Biographers, including a much-later Dean, Dr. Thomas A. Bruce, credited Dr. Hooper with setting the school “on a steady course” where aspiring physicians were immersed in an environment of “in-depth study and disciplined learning.” Dr. Hooper led the school until 1886 and, as many know, Hooper Drive on the UAMS campus is named in his honor.

For many decades, the school’s subsequent Deans steered the institution through times of progress and times of strife, years of war and years of peace. The school outgrew one location after another. Two of the early 20th century Deans, Dr. Morgan Smith (1912-1923, 1924-1927) and Dr. Frank Vinsonhaler (1927-1939) each led for well over a decade.   More ›

The Dean’s Role: Vital for the College, Vital for Arkansas

The post of Medical School Dean is one of the most difficult jobs in academia. In fact, the median tenure of a medical school dean is just six years, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), and some analyses have calculated even shorter average tenures.

“Variations in the missions, organizations and institutional structures of medical schools, when coupled with the transformations occurring in the health care system [and] financial pressures, mean the role of deans has become increasingly complex and demanding,” says Ann Steinecke, Ph.D., one of the experts cited by the AAMC’s Alicia Gallegos in an October 2015 AAMC Reporter article titled “Successful Deanships: Overcoming Challenges to Make a Difference.”

Every one of the College of Medicine’s 26 deans—from Dr. Hooper in 1879 to Dr. Shorey, Dr. Bruce and Dr. Wilson in the second half of the 20th century to Dr. Pope. L. Moseley today—has navigated unique challenges and strived to make the college stronger and better.   More ›

The Importance of Endowed Chairs

Rich with tradition, Endowed Chairs and Professorships date back to 1502, when the first named Chair was established in England. Today, the Chair and endowment established then by Lady Margaret Beaufort, the mother of Henry VII, still supports a distinguished line of scholars at Cambridge and Oxford Universities. The first Chair in the United States was established at Harvard University 50 years before the American Revolution.

Endowed Chairs are one of the highest academic honors that a university can bestow on a faculty member. Those named to a Chair at UAMS are among the most highly regarded scientists, physicians and professors in their academic fields.

Endowed Chairs support educational excellence, world-class patient care and outstanding medical research in perpetuity. They are initiated by a single gift or group of gifts that meet a minimum threshold—$1 million for an Endowed Chair and $1.5 million for a Distinguished Endowed Chair. The full amount is invested, and the income is used to support critical activities of the inaugural and future Chair holders.

Upon selection of a Chair holder, a medallion is designed and presented during a formal investiture ceremony as a tangible symbol of the academic, civic and philanthropic spirit that allows UAMS to make significant contributions to the field of medical science.

What Your Gift Will Mean

We have all benefited from the College of Medicine’s vital work in education, research and clinical care. Since 1879, the college’s Deans have crucially shaped medical care in Arkansas in myriad ways—but especially through our core education mission.

With their education and/or training from UAMS, our medical alumni have cared for generations of Arkansans in every corner of the state. Many have made their mark around the world, leading and contributing to breakthrough advancements in biomedical science and clinical care. We are very proud and fortunate to have so many of our alumni, as well as brilliant educators, scientists and clinicians from around the world, on our faculty. We are equally proud that so many have served as leaders and active
members of the Arkansas Medical Society, and as leaders in their communities.

Endowments are vital to the College of Medicine’s academic, research and health care mission. They are truly a lasting legacy for those whose generosity makes them possible.

The Arkansas Medical Society Distinguished Dean’s Chair honors the legacy of our past Deans and adds crucial leverage, through its eminence, to the recruitment of the highest caliber candidates for future leaders of the College of Medicine.
Each and every year, this Distinguished Chair will help support the Dean’s vision for the college. It will provide funds for the Dean to use where they are needed most, to meet unexpected challenges and unique opportunities for enhancing education, research, clinical care and service to the state of Arkansas. That might mean introducing new scholarships for recruiting the very best students, or seizing a novel continuing education opportunity to help our faculty members become even better at what they do. It could mean providing crucial pilot funding to enable faculty scientists to generate the data needed to successfully compete for a major external grant—and so much more.

Your gift toward a $1.5 million endowment for the AMS Distinguished Dean’s Chair can be structured in a number of ways, depending on which is best suited for you.

Contact: Brigitte Grant, Chief Development Officer, College of Medicine, at 309-645-5852 or via email at to personally discuss the AMS Distinguished Dean’s Chair.

We are grateful for your investment in the future of medical education!

College of Medicine seniors recite the Hippocratic Oath at Honors Convocation.