UAMS Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health Celebrates 20th Anniversary

By Kev' Moye

Several elected officials, in addition to several of the college’s community supporters, faculty, staff and students attended the Sept. 9 soiree. The event featured special presentations, hors d’oeuvres, cocktails and classical music played by a string quartet.

UAMS Chancellor Cam Patterson, M.D., M.B.A., and Mark Williams, Ph.D., dean of the college, were among the keynote speakers of the gala.

“We’re fortunate to have the Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health in Arkansas,” Patterson told the crowd. “We’re immensely grateful for your partnership as we work together to improve the health of people across our state.”

Patterson continued by recognizing the school’s overall impact.

“The mission of the college is to promote the well-being of individuals, families and communities in Arkansas through education, research and service,” he said. “I’m so proud of the college and the role it plays in improving the health of our state.”

The value of the college is currently amplified due to the COVID-19 situation. During his address, Williams expressed gratitude while reminding everyone of how the college, its research and programs have been pivotal in keeping Arkansans safe from COVID-19 and other viruses, diseases or chronic illnesses.

“The college of public health is committed to providing an elite public health education, research and service because all people deserve to live healthy and productive lives,” he said. “Our college will continue to serve because our faculty, staff, volunteer board members and supporters are dedicated to improving the health of people across Arkansas.”

In 2001, the Arkansas Tobacco Settlement Commission was tasked with monitoring the use of settlement funds from American tobacco companies, which were sued by several states for marketing tobacco products to the youth. Arkansas is the only state to use the funds exclusively for health-related measures.

A group of public health professionals felt it was important to get a public health college included in the Arkansas Tobacco Settlement Act. Eventually, the group would successfully campaign to get a public health college included in the bill, which the voters of Arkansas approved.

That paved the way for the college to offer its first courses in late 2001.

Williams referenced those public health pioneers of Arkansas — most notably Fay Boozman, M.D., MPH, a former state senator and director of the state’s department of health, whom the school was posthumously named after in 2005.

V. Boozman

Vickey Boozman, the wife of Fay W. Boozman, and their daughter attend the college of public health’s 20th anniversary gala.

“The contribution Dr. Fay Boozman made to public health in Arkansas is remarkable. We will probably never know the true measure of the work he did to improve the health of people in this state,” Williams said. “In its 20-year history, the college has trained over 1,000 health care professionals. Presently, we have more than 500 students who will soon join the public health workforce.”

Vickey Boozman smiled while discussing how the college’s evolution likely would have surpassed her late husband’s expectations.

“As director of the Department of Health, he traveled the nation meeting with other health directors and public health professionals,” she said. “That’s when he realized just how much Arkansas was lacking in regard to public health. He knew how much this college could help the state.

“Over the years I’ve watched the progress of the college and this great, celebratory event is a proper recognition of the college and its continual progression.”

Also speaking at the event was Will Rankin, a student in the college and president of the school’s Master of Health Administration Student Association. College of Public Health Advisory Board Members David Rainey and Marilyn Porter also addressed the attendees.

J. Boozman

U.S. Sen. John Boozman (middle) speaks with friends during the Fay W. Boozman College of Public of Health 20th Anniversary Gala.

There were several elected officials at the celebration including U.S. Sen. John Boozman, the younger brother of Fay W. Boozman, and U.S. Rep. French Hill.

The 20th anniversary planning committee consisted of:  Marilynn Porter, Jerry Martin, Skip Rutherford, Martha Jane Murray, David Rainey — and from UAMS Division of Institutional Advancement — Becca Bradley, Erica Willard-Dunn and Betsy Eldridge.