UAMS Invests Rahn in Harry P. Ward Chancellor’s Chair

By Jon Parham

Created in 2005, the Ward chair became the first chancellor’s chair endowed at an Arkansas university. I. Dodd Wilson, M.D., who succeeded Harry P. Ward as chancellor in 2000, was the inaugural recipient.

University of Arkansas System President B. Alan Sugg, Ph.D., presided over the investment ceremony held in the Fred W. Smith Conference Center at the Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute on the UAMS campus.

Rahn, an experienced health system administrator and nationally known researcher and clinician, became the fourth UAMS chancellor in 2009. In his first year as chancellor, UAMS opened a 300,000-square-foot expansion to the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, doubling the institute’s capacity for research, treatment and outreach. Construction has begun on a four-floor expansion to the Reynolds Institute on Aging.

“Dr. Rahn came here last year with leadership experience and a vision for ensuring the continued success of UAMS in improving health care in Arkansas through education, patient care and research,” Sugg said. “His tireless commitment to that goal builds on the legacy of achievement by Dr. Ward and Dr. Wilson.”

The chair is named for the late Chancellor Emeritus Harry P. Ward, M.D., UAMS chancellor from 1979 to 2000. He is credited with leading UAMS’ transformation from a small medical school with a charity hospital to an academic health center and research leader that today receives more than $100 million annually in national research grants and contracts and has an annual economic impact in Arkansas of more than $5 billion.

The Willard and Pat Walker Charitable Foundation provided the lead gift of $1 million for the chancellor’s chair, which drew support from other donors to meet the $2.5 million endowment. The chair provides flexible funding for the UAMS chancellor to use in recruiting faculty and administrators of the greatest possible caliber and vision.

During 21 years as UAMS chancellor, Ward saw student enrollment nearly double as each college and the area health education centers expanded their education programs. Ward’s tenure as chancellor also saw new facilities and financial support that allowed UAMS to build on its ability to deliver patient care, provide health care education and support groundbreaking research.

Wilson, who served 14 years as dean of the UAMS College of Medicine before becoming chancellor, led UAMS through a period of growth and success unprecedented in its 130-year history. During his time as chancellor more than $460 million in construction was completed, bolstering the main campus in Little Rock as well as UAMS resources around the state.

Prior to coming to UAMS, Rahn served since 2001 as president of the Medical College of Georgia and senior vice chancellor for health and medical programs for the University System of Georgia.

A nationally known expert on Lyme disease, Rahn directed the Lyme Disease Program in the Yale University School of Medicine, the place where he began his professional career in 1979.

As a clinician he was listed four times in the annual America’s Top Doctors guide.

Dr. Rahn is nationally recognized for work on health care work force shortages through serving on committees of the Association of Academic Health Centers and Association of American Medical Colleges.

He graduated magna cum laude from Yale University with honors in physics. He also received his medical degree from Yale, graduating cum laude. He completed his residency at Yale-New Haven Hospital and a postdoctoral fellowship in rheumatology at Yale.

An endowed chair is the highest academic honor that can be bestowed by a university on its faculty. A chair can honor the memory of a loved one or, as in this case, honor the accomplishments of the former UAMS chancellor. It is supported with designated gifts of $1 million or more.

UAMS is the state’s only comprehensive academic health center, with colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Related Professions and Public Health; a graduate school; a 540,000-square-foot hospital; a statewide network of regional centers; and six institutes: 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. UAMS has 2,775 students and 748 medical residents. 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