UAMS Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute Receives $3.75 Million from Willard and Pat Walker Charitable Foundation

By Jon Parham

“Pat Walker’s legacy of support for UAMS is unmatched,” said Peter Emanuel, M.D., Cancer Institute director. “It was a gift from Mrs. Walker and her late husband, Willard, that made construction of the Cancer Institute’s Walker Tower possible in the 1980s. Now, Mrs. Walker has again made it possible for us to reach an important milestone for UAMS and the people of Arkansas.”

In April 2007, Gov. Mike Beebe signed a bill allowing the state to provide matching funds to build a 12-story expansion to the Cancer Institute, Arkansas’ only academic cancer research and treatment facility. A total of $36 million in matching funds was designated by the Arkansas Legislature.

The Walker Charitable Foundation’s gift brings the total in matched funds raised to date by UAMS to $36,537,469. This amount meets the Legislature’s match.

Gifts and pledges to the building or endowment given between Jan. 1, 2007, and June 30, 2009, qualify for the matching funds.

“It is an honor for our family to be able to help UAMS meet this goal,” said Debbie Walker, executive director of the Willard and Pat Walker Charitable Foundation. “Pat is a passionate and generous person, who cares tremendously for the people of Arkansas. It is my pleasure, along with hers, to make this gift that we believe will impact the health of Arkansans for years to come.”

The Walker family’s support of UAMS now totals more than $45 million, including the gift that made the Cancer Institute’s original Walker Tower possible. Other support has included gifts that made possible the Pat Walker Tower of the UAMS Jones Eye Institute, the Walker Family Clinic in the UAMS Psychiatric Research Institute and the Pat and Willard Walker Memory Research Center at the UAMS Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging, the Carl L. Nelson, M.D. Orthopaedic Center, as well as assisting in the development of UAMS’ northwest Arkansas campus scheduled to open in this fall.

“We at UAMS consider Pat Walker a champion for the people of Arkansas,” said UAMS Chancellor I. Dodd Wilson, M.D. “Her dedication to the health and well-being of the people in our state is exemplified every day through her many acts of generosity. We thank her for kindness and foresight in allowing us to better serve our patients through advanced treatment and research.”

The late Willard Walker was hired by Sam Walton as a store manager in the early days of Bentonville-based Wal-Mart Stores Inc., today the world’s largest retailer. Willard Walker went on to help Walton build the Wal-Mart retail empire. The Walkers shared their good fortune with many charitable organizations in Arkansas, becoming some of the state’s most generous philanthropists.

The Cancer Institute’s 12-story expansion is scheduled to open its first phase in the summer of 2010. The 300,000-square-foot building ultimately will double the Institute’s capacity for research and treatment.

The number of patient visits to the Cancer Institute has grown since it was established in 1984 and is expected to continue. In 2000, about 75,000 patient visits were reported; patient visits exceeded 120,000 in 2008. Patient volume has already surpassed predictions made in 2005, in part because of new patients, but also because of new life-prolonging treatments.

CDI Contractors Inc. is the general contractor for the expansion project. Cromwell Architects Engineers of Little Rock and FKP Architects of Houston are the architecture/engineering firms for the project.

UAMS is the state’s only comprehensive academic health center, with five colleges, a graduate school, a new 540,000-square-foot hospital, 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 the state’s largest public employer with more than 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. Visit or