UA System Names New Education Building for Chancellor Wilson

By Kevin Rowe

LITTLE ROCK – The University of Arkansas Board of Trustees today named the new education building at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) in honor of UAMS Chancellor I. Dodd Wilson, M.D., during the building’s dedication ceremony.


The two-floor, 43,000-square-foot I. Dodd Wilson Education Building, which opened for classes in August, includes 16 classrooms and two auditoriums to accommodate growing enrollment in the five colleges and graduate school at UAMS. Naming the building for Wilson recognized more than two decades of growth and success at UAMS during Wilson’s tenure, first as College of Medicine dean and since 2000 as chancellor.


Wilson announced last year that he intended to retire June 30, 2009.


“We do this in recognition of Dr. Wilson’s leadership at UAMS, his stewardship of its resources, and his vision for the institution as a comprehensive academic health care center for the people of Arkansas, the region and the world,” said University of Arkansas System President B. Alan Sugg, Ph.D. “This is a fitting tribute for someone who has done so much to advance higher education in Arkansas while also seeking to improve our state’s quality of health care.”


UAMS, which has historically produced most of Arkansas’ health care professionals, is expanding enrollment in its programs to meet health care work force shortages being compounded as the baby boomer generation reaches retirement age. Enrollment at UAMS has grown 43 percent during Wilson’s stint as chancellor, reaching 2,652 students currently.


The UAMS College of Nursing, for example, had its largest enrollment in fall 2008 at 651 students. The UAMS College of Medicine previously had no auditorium large enough to seat a class of 200 — the college’s planned future enrollment, up from 160 now.


“This building is critical to our ability to graduate enough doctors, nurses, pharmacists and allied health professionals to meet existing and future work force shortages,” Wilson said. “The University of Arkansas System and Board of Trustees have truly honored me by associating me with a facility that will be used to prepare new health care professionals for generations to come.”


The building, with 14 25-seat classrooms, two 40-seat classrooms and the two auditoriums with 214 seats and space for five wheelchairs, provides additional classroom space for all the UAMS colleges and its graduate school. The auditoriums and larger classrooms are wired with interactive video systems that extend the reach of classes to off-campus locations such as the UAMS Area Health Education Centers around the state.


The building also is equipped with wireless Internet access.


Wilson arrived at UAMS in 1986 as a professor and dean of the College of Medicine from the University of Minnesota Medical School, where he was a professor and vice chairman of the Department of Medicine. He was named executive vice chancellor at UAMS in July 1994 and then chancellor in 2000.


Wilson has led growth in patient care, education, research and community outreach programs during his time as chancellor. In 2005, he became the first recipient of the Harry P. Ward Chancellor’s Chair at UAMS, the first chancellor’s chair endowed at an Arkansas university.


Wilson garnered significant private and public funds to support more than $425 million worth of major UAMS expansion projects, including a 540,000-square-foot hospital expansion that will open in 2009 with a new parking deck. The 100,000-square-foot Psychiatric Research Institute will open in December, and a 300,000-square-foot expansion to the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute will open in 2010.


Statewide access to UAMS programs also has improved under Wilson. The number of Area Health Education Centers (AHECs) has grown from six to eight. These nationally recognized centers provide primary health care to the regions they serve and are where many family medicine physicians complete their residencies. The AHECs also provide continuing education for health care professionals who live and work nearby.


He also has overseen the establishment of eight Regional Centers on Aging, putting 90 percent of elderly Arkansans within 60 miles of an interdisciplinary geriatric health care team.


Development of a satellite campus in Northwest Arkansas that will allow further student enrollment growth is under way with a planned opening in fall 2009.


The $15.2 million education building is funded in part by a 2006 bond issue approved by Arkansas voters.


Nabholz Construction of Conway was the construction contractor for the project. Wittenberg, Delony & Davidson Architects of Little Rock was the architect while TME, Inc., of Little Rock was the engineering firm for the project.


UAMS is the state’s only comprehensive academic health center, with five colleges, a graduate school, a medical center, six centers of excellence and a statewide network of regional centers. UAMS has 2,652 students and 733 medical residents. Its centers of excellence include the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, the Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, the Myeloma Institute for Research and Therapy, the Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, the Psychiatric Research Institute and the Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging. It is one of the state’s largest public employers with about 10,000 employees, including nearly 1,150 physicians who provide medical care to patients at UAMS, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, the VA Medical Center and UAMS’ Area Health Education Centers throughout the state. UAMS and its affiliates have an economic impact in Arkansas of $5 billion a year. Visit