First African-American Department Chairman at Arkansas College of Medicine Memorialized

By todd

LITTLE ROCK – The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) today honored its first African-American department chairman in the College of Medicine with the dedication of the Phillip Leon Rayford Auditorium and presentation of the first scholarship in his name.


Phillip Leon Rayford, Ph.D., a former chairman of the Department of Physiology and Biophysics, and a former associate dean for minority affairs at UAMS, died in 2002 at age 75. UAMS named the auditorium at the Biomedical Research Center Building II for Rayford, while friends and colleagues have established the Phillip Leon Rayford Scholarship.


The dedication ceremony included the first presentation of the scholarship and a lecture on pharmaceutical research and development.


“Dr. Rayford had a strong commitment to the success of UAMS in fulfilling its mission to teach, to heal, to search and to serve,” said UAMS Chancellor I. Dodd Wilson, M.D. “It is fitting that he is remembered in ways that will promote higher education at UAMS and the university’s role as a place where excellence is the defining characteristic.”


During his 18-year tenure at UAMS from 1980-1998, Rayford made significant contributions to his department, to the university and to the state through his leadership in education, research and minority affairs. Among the departmental achievements under his leadership, the Department of Physiology and Biophysics began receiving outside grant support for research. Rayford also worked to recruit and retain minority students in the College of Medicine and the Graduate School at UAMS.


Rayford received the UAMS College of Medicine Distinguished Faculty Award in 1994.


The Phillip L. Rayford Scholarship will be presented annually to a student who expresses an interest in physiology and endocrinology. Frederick D. Johnson Jr., a freshman medical student from Hope, is the first recipient of the scholarship.


The 87-seat Rayford Auditorium is regularly used for lectures and presentations. To mark the auditorium dedication, UAMS hosted a lecture by Tadataka Yamada, M.D., chairman of research and development and a member of the board of directors of GlaxoSmithKline.


Yamada’s presentation was on pharmaceutical research and development in the 21st century.


UAMS is the state’s only comprehensive academic health center, with five colleges, a graduate school, a medical center, five centers of excellence and a statewide network of regional centers. UAMS has about 2,170 students and 650 residents and is the state’s largest public employer with almost 9,000 employees. UAMS and its affiliates have an economic impact in Arkansas of about $3.8 billion a year.


UAMS centers of excellence are the Arkansas Cancer Research Center, Harvey and Bernice Jones Eye Institute, Donald W. Reynolds Center on Aging, Myeloma Institute for Research and Therapy and Jackson T. Stephens Spine and Neurosciences Institute.