Jim Raczynski, Ph.D., Dean of the Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health, and his wife, Martha Phillips, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Epidemiology, have pledged a planned estate gift of $1 million to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) to establish the Raczynski Phillips Bruce Chair in Social Determinants of Health.
Dr. Raczynski and Dr. Phillips made the gift in honor of the College’s inaugural Dean, Thomas A. Bruce, M.D., and his late wife, Dolores.
The gift was recognized at a reception Nov. 20 hosted by UAMS Chancellor Dan Rahn, M.D., at the College of Public Health.
“We chose to make this gift in honor of Dr. Bruce, whose vision has helped guide our work in education, research and service to public health statewide, and Dolores, who stood by his side and supported these changes,” said Dr. Raczynski, who became Dean of the College in 2002. “It has been my great pleasure to serve as founding Dean of the College of Public Health, and my wife and I could not be more pleased to offer this gift to help make the people of Arkansas a healthier people in the years to come.”
Dr. Bruce was the college’s inaugural Dean from 2001 to 2002 and the Dean of the UAMS College of Medicine from 1974 to 1985. At an earlier point in his career, he served at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation in Michigan, helping start new initiatives in rural development, health and international leadership.
“Dr. Bruce, although born in Arkansas, could have lived anywhere in the world when he completed his role working for the Kellogg Foundation,” Dr. Phillips said. “He and Dolores chose to come back home, and Arkansas has been richer in ways that affect the state’s health, education, and cultural opportunities. He continues to be a tremendous asset to UAMS and the state and is our friend and mentor. His vision for a healthier state by promoting health and reducing the social determinants of poor health continues to shape what we do at the College.”
The gift will enable UAMS, and specifically the College of Public Health, to continue to focus on the social determinants of health, which are factors in people’s lives that affect their health. They include place of residence, education, employment, income, sex, race, and poverty, as well as access to health care. The College of Public Health provides hands-on education and research opportunities that have created leaders across the state in health policy, health behavior, and public health practice.
“Since both of us have focused much of our careers on the social determinants of health, the naming of this chair ensures for us this enduring focus in efforts to improve the health and well-being of all Arkansans,” Dr. Raczynski said.
“Thanks to the leadership of Dean Raczynski and Dr. Phillips over the last 13 years, the College of Public Health has become an integral part of the role UAMS plays as a statewide leader in health care, particularly as it relates to approaches to public health issues,” Dr. Rahn said. “We appreciate their generous contribution to the university and hope it inspires others to consider doing the same. Gifts such as these allow us to carry on and expand the work we are doing.”
In November 2000, the voters of Arkansas approved the Tobacco Settlement Proceeds Act that set aside 100 percent of the national tobacco settlement for health initiatives, including the creation of the College of Public Health. The College held its first day of classes in January 2002. Dr. Bruce’s leadership and vision guided the effort to establish the College and the adoption of its community-oriented approach to public health. Over the years, the College has partnered with more than 50 community organizations, agencies, and institutions. They include the Tri-County Rural Health Network in Helena, the Boys, Girls, Adults Community Development Center in Marvell, Hendrix College in Conway, Philander Smith College in Little Rock, University of Arkansas at Little Rock and its William H. Bowen School of Law, Arkansas Baptist College in Little Rock, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service, the Mexican Consulate in Little Rock, and the Arkansas Department of Health.
“Since its inception in 2001, the College has touched communities, individuals and families across Arkansas and has had an unrelenting focus on better health for all, which is the College’s vision and in fact that of UAMS,” Dr. Rahn said. “No college expresses it better than the College of Public Health, but none of the activities of the College of Public Health can be accomplished without its collaborations and partnerships.”