Ethel Brickey Hicks Charitable Corporation Gives UAMS $1 Million to Create College of Medicine Scholarship

By Benjamin Waldrum

“Scholarships are crucial in our efforts to attract the very best students to UAMS and, ultimately, produce outstanding physicians for Arkansas communities where they are needed most,” said Susan Smyth, M.D., Ph.D., executive vice chancellor of UAMS and dean of the College of Medicine. “We are grateful to the Ethel Brickey Hicks Charitable Corporation and the late Mrs. Hicks for this new gift and their generous, longstanding support for medical students who aspire to practice in rural Arkansas.”

The late Ethel Brickey Hicks of Knox County, Tennessee, established a trust fund in 1994 to provide tuition loans to junior and senior medical students who wish to practice medicine in rural Arkansas. The trustees of the fund then formed the Ethel Brickey Hicks Charitable Corporation to grant and administer the loans. This became the Hicks Rural Scholarship program. For each year of qualifying rural practice, the graduate’s loan, up to $19,000 a year, was deemed a scholarship. Over the years, the program was highly successful, with approximately 95% of students practicing in qualifying rural Arkansas communities.

In addition to this program, beginning in 1999 the corporation’s trustees awarded $10,000 each year for the Ethel Brickey Hicks Merit Scholarship. This was awarded to a senior UAMS medical student, voted on by their classmates as to whom they would most want to represent their profession to the public.

Through these two scholarships, the Ethel Brickey Hicks trust has awarded more than $1.7 million to UAMS medical students over the past 27 years.

The corporation’s $1 million gift represents the transfer of trust funds to UAMS to continue Hicks’ wishes to aid medical students for as long as possible. Now, the College of Medicine Scholarship Committee will determine the number of scholarships and amounts awarded each year, with preference given to medical students who pledge to practice in medically underserved communities. The new scholarship will be called the Ethel Brickey Hicks Endowed Scholarship.

The corporation credited Tom South, assistant dean for medical student admissions in the College of Medicine, with ensuring the success of the Hicks scholarships over the years. South, who has been with UAMS and the College of Medicine since 1984, is an ex-officio member on the college’s Scholarship Committee and has administered and shepherded countless medical student scholarships for more than 35 years.

“To me, Tom South is a very important person to the Ethel Brickey Hicks Corporation’s giving to UAMS,” said trustee Janet Moore. “We often thought of making gifts to students outside Arkansas but did not because Tom made it so much easier for us to continue with our program at UAMS. He always adapted to whatever scenarios we wanted to propose. As far as I am concerned, Tom was responsible for bringing about the $10,000 merit award that was given to students for many, many years, and he was responsible for the funds staying solely within the College of Medicine.”

UAMS is the state’s only health sciences university, with colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Professions and Public Health; a graduate school; a hospital; a main campus in Little Rock; a Northwest Arkansas regional campus in Fayetteville; a statewide network of regional campuses; and eight institutes: the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, Psychiatric Research Institute, Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging, Translational Research Institute, Institute for Digital Health & Innovation and the Institute for Community Health Innovation. UAMS includes UAMS Health, a statewide health system that encompasses all of UAMS’ clinical enterprise. UAMS is the only adult Level 1 trauma center in the state. UAMS has 3,275 students, 890 medical residents and fellows, and five dental residents. It is the state’s largest public employer with more than 12,000 employees, including 1,200 physicians who provide care to patients at UAMS, its regional campuses, Arkansas Children’s, the VA Medical Center and Baptist Health. Visit or Find us on Facebook, X (formerly Twitter), YouTube or Instagram.