G. Richard Smith, M.D., Named UAMS College of Medicine Dean

By Ben Boulden

Smith, a professor and holder of the Marie Wilson Howells Chair, is currently director of the UAMS Psychiatric Research Institute and chair of the Department of Psychiatry in the UAMS College of Medicine.

Smith succeeds Debra H. Fiser, M.D., who has been College of Medicine dean and vice chancellor of UAMS since Sept. 1, 2006. Fiser recently announced she would step down to return full time to the Department of Pediatrics, where she served as professor and chair for many years.

“Dr. Smith’s leadership as dean and vice chancellor will be vital during this time of change in the history of UAMS and the history of medicine in the United States and Arkansas,” said Rahn. “He is ideally suited to lead the College of Medicine and help address the strategic issues of health system change, which are higher health care quality, better patient experience and lower cost.”

“I also want to thank Dr. Debra Fiser, for her service as dean and vice chancellor for the last seven years. Debby has done an exemplary job of leading the college and I am grateful to her for her service,” Rahn said.

“I am honored to be asked to help lead the UAMS College of Medicine as we face one of the most significant times of change in the last 50 years for health care in our state and nation,” said Smith. “I look forward to the opportunity of working with my colleagues, the chairs of the departments of the college, the leaders of UAMS Medical Center and the campus to advance our collective missions and to serve the people of the state of Arkansas.”

A Jonesboro native, Smith received a Bachelor of Science in chemical biology from Rhodes College in Memphis. He was a medical student, intern and resident at UAMS. After completing a fellowship in psychiatry and internal medicine at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, N.Y., he returned to UAMS in 1981 and became chair of the Department of Psychiatry in 2001. He is founding director of the Psychiatric Research Institute, which opened in December 2008 with 40 inpatient beds to combine research, clinical care and education all in one location.

A UAMS faculty member and distinguished scientist for more than 30 years, Smith has developed several programs at UAMS, including the Division for Health Services Research, one of the nation’s largest research groups dedicated to mental health and substance abuse services research. He was the founding director of the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement and a leader in securing the state’s tobacco settlement to improve health care for Arkansans.

As dean, Smith will oversee all aspects of the College of Medicine, the largest college at UAMS with 30 departments and free-standing divisions, more than 1,100 full- and part-time faculty members, a professional practice group, 680 students, and 650 residents and fellows.

He will work closely with College of Medicine leaders to support and build the educational programs of the college. He also will work closely with Roxane Townsend, M.D., vice chancellor for clinical programs and CEO of UAMS Medical Center, to create and put into operation a forward-looking model for clinical programs. He will be instrumental in building new research programs; the success of existing basic, clinical and translational research programs; and working with college leaders to develop strategies to ensure adequate support and advancement of current programs.

In addition to educating tomorrow’s physicians to meet the health care needs of the future, other initiatives Smith will help with include renewal of the Clinical and Translational Science Award and continued progress toward National Cancer Institute designation for the UAMS Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute as a comprehensive cancer center.

UAMS is the state’s only comprehensive academic health center, with colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Professions and Public Health; a graduate school; a hospital; a statewide network of regional centers; and seven 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, the Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging and the Translational Research Institute. Named best Little Rock metropolitan area hospital by U.S. News & World Report, it is the only adult Level 1 trauma center in the state. UAMS has more than 2,800 students and 790 medical residents. It is the state’s largest public employer with more than 10,000 employees, including about 1,000 physicians and other professionals who provide care to patients at UAMS, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, the VA Medical Center and UAMS regional centers throughout the state. Visit www.uams.edu or uamshealth.com.