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UAMS College of Public Health Founds Advisory Board to Lead Development Efforts

 COPH Advisory Board

The Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health (COPH) at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences UAMS) has established an advisory board to direct the College’s development efforts. The founding members include leaders in state government, the business community, health care, law, and the nonprofit world who embrace the importance of public health and the College. The initial focus of the board will be funding for student scholarships and endowed professorships and chairs.

The importance of fundraising for faculty and students is emphasized by Jim Raczynski, Ph.D., founding dean of the College.

“Public health educational programs are exandling nationally at a rapid pace, tripling in number of accredited schools in the past 20 years, so we find ourselves in keen competition with our sister schools in recruiting the best faculty and students,” Raczynski said. “For example, in the past two years, we have lost three senior, nationally known faculty who were recruited to other schools by being offered endowed chair positions. And, as a very young school, we also lack financial support for students.”

Tom Bruce, M.D., who in the early days of the College served as its inaugural dean (dean pro tem) and then as the first director of the COPH Office of Community-based Public Health, is the College’s liaison on the advisory board and will be providing guidance on the College’s development efforts.

“The public health school is the only UAMS college that hasn’t had its own advisory board for fund-raising/friend-raising, and given that its alumnae/alumni are still in their early careers, there’s need for financial support from the private sector if our College is to continue to develop at its current rate,” Bruce said. “The plan is to expand this stellar group of initial board members and become a model of success for other, similar UAMS groups.”

Gordon Silaski, president of the greater Little Rock Market for Centennial Bank, will serve as board chair.

“In my brief involvement with the College of Public Health, I have gained an appreciation for the role this program has and will play in the general health and overall wellness of our community,” Silaski said. “I look forward to sharing with others the importance of our mission and the impact we can have, given broader access to financial and other resources. The College’s advisory board is uniquely qualified to assist in this regard, and I am pleased to be taking a leadership role.”

Ruth Shepherd, president and CEO of Just Communities of Arkansas (JCA), will serve as vice-chair.

Shepherd says that when she was invited to serve on the Board, her response was a “proverbial no-brainer.” As she saw it, the mission of the COPH dovetails perfectly with that of the JCA.

“Anything I can do to help this college grow is important to me and can benefit our entire community,” Shepherd said. “Unlike some of the traditional medical fields where the focus is on providing care to patients, the College of Public Health is looking at the root causes of sickness and providing research and programs to promote the well-being and general health of every person in our community. Serving on this board is just another way for me to live out the mission of Just Communities of Arkansas, to ensure that every person in our state has the equal opportunity to live healthy, happy, productive lives.”

Board Photo:

First row, left to right: Allan Gates (environmental attorney, Mitchell Williams Law Firm), Jodiane Tritt (vice president for government relations, Arkansas Hospital Association), Wesley Walls (COPH building architect; principal, Polk Stanley Wilcox Architects), Dr. James Raczynski (COPH dean)<br />Second row, left to right: Gordon Silaski (president, Little Rock Market, Centennial Bank), Dr. Tom Bruce (COPH inaugural dean), Dr. Anthony Fletcher (Cardiology and Medicine Clinic), Ruth Shepherd (president and CEO, Just Communities of Arkansas), Janet Jones (owner and president, Janet Jones Company Real Estate)<br />Not pictured: Jay Bradford (commissioner, Arkansas Insurance Department; former president pro tempore Arkansas Senate and former speaker, Arkansas House of Representatives); Hershel Cleveland (attorney at law, former speaker, Arkansas House of Representatives)