College of Public Health Students, Faculty and Staff Celebrated at Convocation

By Kev' Moye

Dean Mark Williams, Ph.D., slowly gazed over the massive crowd packed into an auditorium in the Daniel W. Rahn Interprofessional Education Building before expressing his excitement for the vast potential of the graduating class. During his opening address, Williams disclosed how the students can make a lasting impact as future public health professionals.

“You have the responsibility to understand and advocate for individuals whose lives are not the same as yours,” he told the students. “The public health education you’ve received has given you a basic understanding of the conditions that contribute to health inequities. Additionally, your public health education has given you the tools to find solutions for the inequities.

“Just as the threats to health are common — so too are the solutions.”

Williams also informed attendees that, as members of the community, they play a role in helping Arkansans enjoy quality health.

“Health is a resource,” Williams said. “We can all agree that health is valuable. It’s in our best interest to have a healthy life, and a healthy family, in a healthy community. The health of one depends on the health of all.”

Among the award winners at the event was Joe Bates, M.D., M.S., associate dean for public health practice for the college. Bates, who helped create a groundbreaking treatment plan for the Arkansas tuberculosis epidemic, earned the inaugural Fay W. Boozman Lifetime Achievement & Public Health Award.

Ray Hanley received the Public Health through Public Policy Award. Hanley is a retired former CEO of the Arkansas Foundation for Medical Care and a former Medicaid director for the Arkansas Department of Health.

Vickey Boozman, the wife of the late Fay W. Boozman, M.D., addressed the attendees before presenting the family scholarship. She informed the crowd of the importance of public health gains and how they help to honor her late husband’s vision for Arkansas.

“Fay knew there was a need to create a college of public health,” she said. “His passion was to see Arkansas become the healthiest state in the nation. Fay believed that each of us could make a difference through service to others.”

Boozman continued by saying that she and her loved ones receive a sense of joy seeing all the community projects and research that the college is spearheading.

“My family’s heartbeat is to see Fay’s vision lived through each of you,” she said. “Your standard of excellence honors Fay’s name and continues to carry the torch of passion for helping others attain positive health habits.”


The Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health had a large crowd on site for its 2023 convocation.

In a video message from UAMS Chancellor Cam Patterson, M.D., MBA, he congratulated the students for what they’ve accomplished thus far and the contributions to public health they’re destined to make in the future.

Following the full presentation of awards and scholarships, Williams closed the convocation by telling the graduates that Arkansans are depending on them to explain important health and science information in a practical manner. He also told the grads that they’re now well-versed on how to conduct research that can provide solutions to issues, evaluate theories and trends, and eliminate inaccurate viewpoints.

“As trained public health leaders, you can help implement effective, evidence-based public health and health care administration practices to improve the lives of all Arkansans,” he said.

“On behalf of the faculty, staff and community,  we celebrate you on reaching this important milestone in your career.”

The full list of the college’s scholarship recipients and award winners are as follows:

COPH Scholarship Recipients

  • Arkansas Regional Organ Recovery Agency Scholarship — Samantha Wells
  • Fay W. Boozman Public Health and Community Service Scholarship — Olgaauora Rodriguez
  • COPH Career & Leadership Scholarship — Anis Elham
  • David Bourne Public Health Physician Memorial Scholarship — Lillian Jones, Hudson Surber
  • John Baker MHA Scholarship — Jackson Bryant
  • Jan Richter College of Public Health Scholarship — Ishu Karki
  • Graduates of Arkansas’ Historically Black Colleges and Universities Scholarship — Ciara Jenkins
  • Marshall Dissertation Research Award — Emine Bircan
  • Maternal & Child Health Scholarship — Nidia Guerrero, Ariel Morrow, Camille Richoux
  • Neil and Clara Spain Memorial Scholarship — Maria Neal
  • James M. Raczynski and Martha Phillips Endowed Scholarship — Grace Goode, Nidia Guerrero
  • Second Presbyterian Church Health Equity Fund Scholarship — Tierra Holland, Ciara Jenkins


COPH Staff and Faculty Awards

  • 2023 Faculty Excellence in Teaching Award — Alexandra Marshall, Ph.D.
  • 2023 Faculty Excellence in Public Service Award — Clare Brown, Ph.D.
  • 2023 Public Health Through Public Policy Award — Ray Hanley
  • 2023 Faculty Excellence in Research Award — Dina Jones, Ph.D.
  • 2023 Staff Excellence Award—Stephen Williams
  • 2023 United States Public Health Service of Excellence in Public Health Award — John Musser