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Past UAMS Chancellors and Administrators

Daniel W. Rahn, M.D., is the fourth University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) chancellor. Prior to 1975, when James L. Dennis, M.D., became the institution’s first chancellor, the executive officer of the institution was known as the vice president for health sciences or the vice president for medical education and hospitals.

H. Clay Chenault, M.D., was the first to carry the title of vice president for medical education and hospitals when he reorganized the campus’ administrative structure in 1946-1947. Chenault also served as the dean of the College of Medicine, the job that also carried executive responsibility for the campus and its educational and patient care divisions prior to 1946, stretching back to the creation of the medical school in 1879.

Previous Chancellors

I. Dodd Wilson, M.D.I. Dodd Wilson, M.D. (2000-2009)

I. Dodd Wilson led UAMS through a period of growth and success unprecedented in its 130-year history. During his time as chancellor more than $460 million in construction was completed, bolstering the main campus in Little Rock as well as UAMS resources around the state. The campus expansion was highlighted by the 2009 opening of a 540,000-square-foot hospital that replaced an outdated 1950s-era facility.

During Wilson’s tenure, the Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health was established while enrollment increased in all UAMS colleges and its graduate school. Enrollment grew 50 percent during Wilson’s time as chancellor, reaching 2,775 students in 2009. To allow continued enrollment growth at a time of high demand for health care professionals, Wilson strongly advocated a satellite campus for UAMS. The first students at the UAMS-Northwest campus in Fayetteville arrived in 2009.

Research funding increased to record levels during Wilson’s tenure with nationally funded research topping $60 million annually. That figure was boosted in 2009 by the largest research grant received to date by UAMS, adding nearly $20 million for translating scientific work into new medical treatments more quickly in the UAMS Center for Clinical and Translational Research.

Wilson was named UAMS chancellor in 2000 after serving 14 years as dean of the UAMS College of Medicine. He was named chancellor emeritus by the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees in 2009. The I.Dodd Wilson Education Building opened in 2008.

Harry P. Ward, M.D.Harry P. Ward, M.D. (1979-2000)

Harry Ward is credited with leading UAMS’ transformation from a small medical school with a charity hospital to an academic health center and research leader. During 21 years as UAMS chancellor, Ward saw student enrollment nearly double as each college and the area health education centers expanded their education programs.

Ward’s tenure as chancellor also saw new facilities and financial support that allowed UAMS to build on its ability to deliver patient care, provide health care education and support groundbreaking research. External research funding during this period grew from about $4 million in 1979 to more than $76 million in 2000. His focus on developing research at UAMS included seeking legislative approval for a mixed drink tax that supported construction of the Biomedical Research Center.

Ward was named UAMS chancellor in 1979 after previously serving as professor and dean of the University of Colorado College of Medicine. Following his retirement as chancellor in 2000, he served as chancellor emeritus until his death in 2008. The hospital’s Harry P. Ward Tower is named for him.

James L. Dennis, M.D.James L. Dennis, M.D. (1970-1979)

James Dennis was appointed vice president for health sciences at UAMS in 1970 when the Little Rock campus was still known as the University of Arkansas Medical Center (UAMC). He championed the concept of a “university without walls” that stretched health information and education beyond the campus. Dennis and then School of Medicine Dean Winston Shorey received legislative approval in 1973 to launch the Area Health Education Centers (AHECs) to help address the deficit in primary care facilities around the state.

His tenure also was marked by growth that saw new educational and clinical facilities built on campus. A major hospital renovation transformed the facility from a charity hospital to a center capable of competing for private pay patients. He became the first chancellor in 1975 during a series of name changes that saw the institution renamed the University of Arkansas Medical Sciences and all of the campus’ schools become colleges. The James L. Dennis Developmental Center is operated by the Department of Pediatrics in the UAMS College of Medicine and provides clinical services to developmentally disabled children.

Vice President for Medical Education and Hospitals (1946-1970)

Storm Whaley (1960-1970)

F. Douglas Lawrason (1955-1960)

Hayden Nicholson (1954-1955)

H. Clay Chenault (1946-1949)

Dean and Vice President for the School of Medicine (1879-1946)

Byron L. Robinson (1941-1946)

Stuart P. Cromer (1939-1941)

Frank Vinsonhaler (1927-1939)

Morgan Smith (1924-1927)

Arthur R. Stover (1923-1924)

Morgan Smith (1912-1923)

James H. Lenow (1907-1912)

Edwin Bentley (1904-1907)

James A. Dibrell (1886-1904)

P.O. Hooper (1879-1886)