Chancellor Touts Important Role of Public Health during College’s Convocation

By Kev' Moye

Nearly 60 students took part in the convocation, which consisted of several special recognitions and presentations.

UAMS Chancellor Cam Patterson, M.D., MBA, was the keynote speaker of the event. He also was awarded the college’s 2022 Public Health through Public Policy Award for his extraordinary contributions to improving the health of all Arkansans.

During his address to the students, Patterson spoke glowingly about the work of the college and how the Spring 2022 graduates reflect the accomplishments of the school.

“Since its founding, the UAMS Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health has established itself as a national leader in public health education and research,” he said. “Several national organizations have recognized the work that’s being done to make the College of Public Health what it is today. We’re proud of what has been accomplished, and we’re proud to count you — our graduates — among the next group of public health leaders disseminating the work that is done here in this college into society.”

Patterson reminded the graduates of how important they are to the people of Arkansas and the ultimate purpose of UAMS.

“Many of the strides we’ve made in Arkansas to improving the health of our state are not attributable to medical procedures,” Patterson said. “A lot of Arkansans are in better health due to what the medical programs have contributed to health care outcomes. The work of public health officials is ongoing. We know we still have a lot of work to do if we’re going to make Arkansas the healthiest state in the region, and that’s our goal.”

“As a graduate, you’re heading into a health care environment where public health leadership is critical,” Patterson said. “It’s critical that people are aware of what we can do to improve health care outcomes in Arkansas and across the world. Reducing health disparities is imperative to achieve and sustain good health. As a graduate and eventual public health professional, many people are counting on you to help us achieve a better state of health.”

Also among the convocation speakers was Mark Williams, Ph.D., dean of the college. His advice for the graduates was to never lose sight of the role they’ll play in improving the lives of Arkansans and communities worldwide.

“As graduates, we’re extremely proud of you as you prepare to head into the field of public health,” Williams said. “You’ve completed your education and now it’s time to begin your practice as a public health professional. The past couple of years have demonstrated how important public health is to the United States, the state of Arkansas and also to the world.”

Williams told the graduates to be bold in promoting fact-based data and research when combating beliefs that could compromise a person’s health.

“As a graduate heading into public health, always remember that your responsibility is to the truth,” he firmly said. “Public health has been under attack over the past three years. We’ve heard the misinformation about public health studies and our findings. We need professionals who are willing to stand up and defend the truth. Science is a truth that you must defend.”

In regard to being fierce in advocating for the significance of health research, former state Sen. Fay W. Boozman — whom the school is named after — was staunch in his support of public health in Arkansas.

Vickey Boozman attended the convocation to help honor her late husband’s legacy and to present the Boozman College of Public Health and Community Service Scholarship to the recipient, Harper Purifoy.

The convocation took on an extra layer of significance as it returned after being canceled in 2020 and 2021 because of the pandemic.

“The Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health held its first in-person convocation after a two-year hiatus because of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Williams said. “It was a pleasure to honor the achievements of our faculty, staff and students and to celebrate our students as they graduate.”

Kevin Ryan, Ph.D., associate dean of the college, also enjoyed being in the midst of people enjoying themselves at the event.

“It was a pleasure to be able to conduct the 2022 COPH Convocation,” Ryan said. “Celebrating in-person with our students, their families and friends made for a wonderful ceremony. The convocation always has a family-like, warm, close-knit atmosphere to it.”

With a big smile on his face, Williams concluded the convocation by saying how much he enjoyed the opportunity to celebrate not only academic and professional excellence, but also the pivotal role that public health plays in the well-being of society.

“This was an amazing event,” Williams said. “This was my first convocation as dean. Six months after I arrived in Arkansas to become dean of this college — so did COVID-19. The pandemic certainly changed things for us. But this was a wonderful ceremony. I can certainly say that I’m already excited about next year’s convocation.”

Staff and faculty members receiving honors during the college’s convocation were:

  • Excellence in teaching – Clare Brown, Ph.D.,
  • Excellence in research – Ping-Ching Hsu, Ph.D.,
  • Excellence in public service – Mark Williams, Ph.D.,
  • Dean’s Award for Staff Excellence – Susan Leon
  • Service Awards recipients – Jami L. Allen, Ph.D.; Benjamin Amick, Ph.D.; Suman Maity, Ph.D.; Sean Young, Ph.D.; and Brown.
  • Delta Omega faculty honoree: Igor Koturbash, Ph.D.

Students who received honors during the celebration were:

  • James M. Raczynski and Martha Phillips Endowed Scholarship – Nia Robinson
  • Marshall Scholarship for Sexual Health & Gender Equity Studies – Lorraine Stigar
  • Edward F. and Carol C. Stewart Scholarship for Academic Excellence in Public Heath – Samjhana Shakya
  • Neil and Clara Spain Memorial Scholarship – Samantha Wells
  • Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health Annual Scholarship for Graduates of Historically Black Colleges and Universities – Kayla Jimmerson
  • John Baker MHA Scholarship – Bunma Tan and Chandler Wilson
  • Second Presbyterian Health Equity Fund Scholarship – Carissa Ansel and Amarachi Onyebueke
  • United States Public Health Service of Excellence in Public Health Award – Austin Brown
  • David Bourne Public Health Physician Memorial Scholarship – Alexandra Diaz-Cruz, Jacob Siebenmorgan, Andrew Campbell and Morgan Campbell
  • Outstanding MHA Student Award – Joanna Bartley
  • Jeanne D. Weiss Award – Cassandra Van Tassel
  • Outstanding MHA Alumnus Award – Amy Wenger, vice chancellor of UAMS Northwest Regional Campus
  • Outstanding Service Award – Nikolas Berardi
  • Delta Omega Society honorary inductee: David Rainey, Ph.D.
  • Delta Omega student honorees: Joanna Bartley, Nikolas Berardi, Hannah Bryson, Kylie Cleavenger, Yama Fazli, Sarah Fountain, Shibani Lal, John Musser



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 seven 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 and Institute for Digital 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 3,240 students, 913 medical residents and fellows, and five dental residents. It is the state's largest public employer with more than 11,000 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, Twitter, YouTube or Instagram.