UAMS College of Public Health Named For Fay W. Boozman, M.D.

By todd

LITTLE ROCK – The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) College of  Public Health was named today for the late Fay W. Boozman, M.D., who led the Arkansas Department of Health from 1998 until his death March 19.


As director of the department, which will merge Friday with the Arkansas Department of Human Services, Boozman championed public health efforts that seek to change attitudes and promote healthier lifestyles statewide. The UAMS alumnus also played a key role in steering millions of dollars from a 1998 tobacco industry legal settlement to health-related causes, including the College of Public Health. In addition, he helped create the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement, a partnership between UAMS, the Health Department and Arkansas Blue Cross Blue Shield that serves as a resource for improving the health of Arkansans.


The dedication was attended by Gov. Mike Huckabee and other state leaders, UAMS officials, family and friends. Several reflected on the legacy left by the 58-year-old ophthalmologist, who also earned a master’s of public health degree.


“Fay helped create the plan for wisely using the funds from the tobacco lawsuit settlement,” said Huckabee. “The establishment of the College of Public Health was part of that vision. Without his foresight, there would have been no College of Public Health. He was instrumental in convincing us that it was an important part of the overall plan to make Arkansas a healthier state.”


UAMS’ newest college is responsible for developing programs that reach into communities to help people stay healthy. The college’s efforts are focused primarily on changing attitudes about tobacco, food choices and physical activity, all of which are major factors affecting the leading causes of death and disability.


Arkansas for years has been among the least healthy states in the country, a fact that heightens the significance of the successful campaign to target health care with the $50 million to $60 million a year the state gets from the tobacco settlement. Arkansas is the only state that continues to spend its tobacco settlement proceeds entirely on health.


Arkansans in 2000 endorsed the health plan with a 65 percent vote for the Tobacco Settlement Proceeds Act, which called for funding the College of Public Health at UAMS.


During the college’s 2002 construction, Boozman said it symbolized a “growing commitment to the citizens of Arkansas that we’re no longer going to accept the fact that we’re one of the unhealthiest states.” The 120,000-square-foot building was paid for mostly with $15 million from the state’s tobacco settlement money.


Boozman’s death led the Arkansas Legislature to approve a resolution calling for the College of Public Health to be named in his honor. The University of Arkansas System Board of Trustees adopted a resolution naming the college for Boozman.


UAMS Chancellor I. Dodd Wilson, M.D., said the naming is a fitting tribute.


“Fay’s work toward improving the health of every Arkansan was a mission he took to heart,” Wilson said. “Not only did he work on behalf of others, like the governor, he set a tremendous example by his actions. In recent years, Fay was exercising regularly and had lost more than 70 pounds.”


The College of Public Health receives 5 percent of the state’s share of the tobacco settlement, which varies from year to year. As the number of faculty has grown, so have the number of grants and contracts at the College of Public Health. Since 2002 when James Raczynski, Ph.D., became dean, the college has received grants and contracts totaling $17,033,759, with $14,076,789 of that currently active.


The COPH is to improve the health and well-being of Arkansans through two primary mechanisms: meeting the public health work force needs for the future and demonstrating how public health approaches can address the health needs of Arkansans via model community programs. Pilot sites for teaching and learning also serve as innovative laboratories for new and creative approaches to old problems. Students learn under the guidance of faculty with the aid of local citizens, schools, hospitals and faith groups about community-based health improvement


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 2,200 students and 660 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 $4.3 billion a year. UAMS centers of excellence are the Arkansas Cancer Research Center, Harvey and Bernice Jones Eye Institute, Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging, Myeloma Institute for Research and Therapy and Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute.