Since its inception, the University of Arkansas System has develop a tradition of excellence that includes the state’s 1871 flagship, land-grant research university; Arkansas’ premier institution for medical education, treatment and research; a major metropolitan university; an 1890 land-grant university; two regional universities serving southern and western Arkansas; five community colleges; two schools of law; a presidential school; a residential math and science high school; and divisions of agriculture, archeology and criminal justice. The individual entities of the UA System maintain cooperative strength as well as diverse offerings that exhibit unmatched economic and social impact to the state.
The UA System provides communities in Arkansas with access to academic and professional opportunities, develops intellectual growth and cultural awareness in its students and provides knowledge and research skills to an ever-changing society. The system enrolls more than 70,000 students, employs over 17,000 employees, and has a total budget of more than $2 billion. An intrinsic part of the texture and fabric of Arkansas, the UA System is a driving force in the state’s economic, educational, and cultural advancement.
The Board of Trustees is a 10-mmember body appointed by the Governor with concurrent of the State Senate for 10-year terms with one term expiring each year. One member is appointed from each congressional district, the remainder being appointed at-large. The at-large members must be alumni of the university. The Board of Trustees has constitutional status and exercises those powers and duties prescribed by state statutes.
The Board is the ultimate legal authority within the University. The Board functions primarily as a policy-making body, but all major official acts of the University require Board approval. Official acts include, but are not limited to, the following: sale or purchase of property; authorization of new building programs; annual operations and maintenance budget; granting of degrees; legislative requests; new degree-granting programs; and faculty promotions.
Just a few weeks before Thomas Edison invented the first light bulb in October 1879, eight physicians pooled their money and invested $5,000 to start the first medical school in Arkansas. The eight founding physicians were led by Dr. P. O. Hooper of Little Rock, and the street where many patients and visitors now enter the UAMS campus is named in his honor.
The initial investment of $635 made by each of the founding physicians now represents more than $5 billion in economic impact for the state of Arkansas from UAMS and its affiliates every year. The former Sperindo Restaurant and Hotel in downtown Little Rock served as the first home for what was then known as the Medical Department of Arkansas Industrial University. As enrollment grew into the 20th century, the school was housed in several different locations, including the Old State House in downtown Little Rock. A new medical school was built in the 1930s with funding provided by President Franklin Roosevelt’s Public Works Administration.
Additional funding was provided by a tax on beer and liquor assessed by the Arkansas state legislature. In 1951, Governor Sid McGrath used funds from a new cigarette tax to secure $7.4 million for a new University Hospital on a 26-acre site on West Markham Street in what was then the outskirts of Little Rock. The University of Arkansas Medical Center moved into the new hospital in 1956. Air conditioning came to patients’ rooms 10 years later.
UAMS was transformed from a small medical school with a charity hospital into an academic health center and research leader under the direction of Dr. Harry P. Ward, who served as chancellor from 1979 to 2000. The Harry P. Ward Tower, which opened in 1997, is named in his honor. Dr. Ward was succeeded as chancellor by Dr. I. Dodd Wilson in 2000.
Building on the foundation laid by Dr. Ward, Dr. Wilson began the most ambitious building program in the institution’s 125 years of growth. This round of expansion included nearly $500 million in building projects begun in 2001 to provide additional space for education, patient care, research and outreach programs. Among the projects was an education building opened in 2008 that the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees named the I. Dodd Wilson Education Building in honor of Wilson, who retired in late 2009. Wilson was succeeded by Dr. Dan Rahn.
In early 2009 UAMS opened a new hospital, a 540,000 square-foot facility with 234 adult beds and 60 neonatal beds. This facilities enables the people of UAMS to create comfort, hope, and healing for more patients and families than ever before.
The new hospital and adjoining Psychiatric Research Institute will serve as the center of the institution’s now 84-acre campus. Also in 2009, in response to a nationwide shortage of health care professionals, UAMS opened a northwest Arkansas satellite campus in Fayetteville to help produce more physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and other health care professionals.
In addition to its state-of-the-art hospital and outpatient center, UAMS is home to the: Colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Professions, Public Health, and a Graduate School with a growing enrollment that included 2775 students and nearly 750 resident physicians.
Other important components of the UAMS include: the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute; the Myeloma Institute for Research and Therapy; the Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute; the Pat & Willard Walker Eye Research Center; the Psychiatric Research Institute; the Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute; the Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging; and the Translational Research Institute.
Today UAMS has outreach programs operating in every county of the state, including eight Area Health Education Centers, eight regional Centers on Aging, and one of the most successful Head Start programs in the nation.
UAMS is where medicine – and excellence – live. Visit UAMS website for more information.