The Dean’s Distinguished Alumnus Award was established in 1973 to recognize graduates who have demonstrated exceptional achievement and contributions to medicine, whether through patient care, research, health administration or other forms of leadership.


Dr. Edith Irby JonesEdith Irby Jones, M.D., ’52 – for her role as a medical pioneer beginning in 1948 as the first African American to enroll in an all-white medical school in the South; in grateful recognition for her distinguished career as a doctor, educator and philanthropist; and in honor of her many decades of compassionate care for low-income patients and in opening the door for countless others to follow in her footsteps in medicine.




C.D. WilliamsC.D. Williams, M.D. ’65 – for his extraordinary and pioneering work in cardiovascular surgery in Arkansas over the past four decades, including his leadership in establishing and enhancing the heart surgery programs at Little Rock’s major hospitals; and for his compassionate dedication to each and every patient.





James Y. Suen, M.D.James Y. Suen, M.D. ’66 – for his internationally recognized contributions to his field, UAMS and the state of Arkansas during his 43 years as chair of the Department of Otolaryngology, which made him the longest-serving chair of otolaryngology in the nation when he stepped down in 2017; for his substantial role in developing what is now the UAMS Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute; and for his extraordinary impact on patients, students and colleagues.




Jacobs_Richard Richard F. Jacobs, M.D. ’77 – in recognition of his outstanding leadership as chair of the UAMS Department of Pediatrics for 10 years to date and his 34 years of service on the UAMS faculty; for serving as a national leader in pediatrics and pediatric infectious diseases; and for his unwavering devotion to medical education and training that ensures the best possible care for the children of Arkansas.




Kent C. Westbrook, M.D.Kent C. Westbrook, M.D. ’65 – for well over four decades of ongoing service to UAMS and Arkansas; for his visionary work to cofound what is now the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute and lead it for 14 years; for his leadership in the Division of Surgical Oncology; and for accepting and excelling in many other key leadership roles in the College of Medicine and UAMS.




John Byrd, M.D.John Byrd, M.D. ’91 – in recognition of his groundbreaking work to develop and test new drugs for leukemia and other lymphoid malignancies; for his internationally recognized scholarly work in translational cancer research; and for his leadership in hematology at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center’s National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center.




This year, the College of Medicine presented two Distinguished Alumnus Service Awards in addition to the the Distinguished Alumnus Award.

Dean’s Distinguished Alumnus Service Award:

David Jacks, M.D.David Jacks, M.D. ’76 – in recognition of his strong support of the college and his work on many projects in the Department of Urology and UAMS as a whole; his dedicated service as Class Agent; his mentorship of medical students and residents, and his expertise and leadership in the field of urology and medicine in Arkansas.



F. Eugene Joyce, M.D.F. Eugene Joyce, M.D. ’68 – in honor of his successful advocacy and strong support for the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute; his eagerness to champion UAMS and the college in the state and beyond over more than four decades; and for sharing his expertise in pathology with medical students, residents and young physicians.



Dean’s Distinguished Alumnus:

John B. Holcomb, M.D.John B. Holcomb, M.D. ’85 – in recognition of the retired U.S. Army Colonel’s dedication to service men and women during his 23-year career in the military; the substantial advances he introduced in resuscitation, stemming blood loss, other trauma care and transport of those wounded in battle; and his ongoing leadership and expertise in research related to trauma care as well as in teaching and patient care.



(All honorees prior to 2013 received the Dean’s Distinguished Alumnus Award.)


Sterling B. Williams, M.D., Ph.D.Sterling B. Williams, M.D., Ph.D., ’73, in recognition of his exemplary achievements as a physician, educator and researcher; his dedication and groundbreaking leadership in academic medicine and the training and continuing medical education of the nation’s obstetricians and gynecologists, and for serving as a stellar role model and mentor for medical students and physicians in all stages of their careers.



Susan E. Bates, M.D.Susan E. Bates, M.D. ’78, in grateful recognition of her exemplary achievements as a physician, researcher and scientific mentor; her integral role in improving the lives of cancer patients through her leadership and groundbreaking investigations at the National Cancer Institute; her dedication to the vital concept of “bench to bedside” translational research; her devotion to the art and science of medicine; and her commitment to the UAMS College of Medicine.


No award given


D. Brent Polk, M.D.D. Brent Polk, M.D. ’84, in recognition of his exemplary achievements as a physician, administrator, scientist, and community servant; his contributions to basic and clinical gastroenteric research; his years of service to pediatric gastroenterology; his energy, intelligence and devotion to the art and science of medicine; and his commitment to the College.



Elder Granger, M.D.Elder Granger, M.D. ’80, in recognition of his superb leadership, professionalism and outstanding accomplishment as a physician, his exemplary service to our country, and his dedication to enhancing the health and lives of service men and women and their families.




J. Lee Dockery, M.D. ’57, in recognition of his superb leadership and exemplary accomplishments as a scientist and clinician, and his dedication to the advancement of excellence in medical education.




Rex A. Amonette, M.D.Rex A. Amonette, M.D. ’66, in recognition of his uncommon wisdom, integrity, and commitment to the field of dermatology, and his reputation as the consummate physician, healer, and mentor to young physicians.




Tom Wortham, M.D.Tom Wortham, M.D. ’52, in recognition of his compassions and care for his patients, astute clinical abilities, vital and valuable leadership to his community and alma mater, and his unquestionable character.




George L. Ackerman, M.D.George L. Ackerman, M.D. ’54, in recognition of his exceptional clinical abilities and compassionate approach to his patients and insightful dedication to medical education and to his students and residents, and the vital and valuable leadership of his alumni class and steadfast support of alumni programs.



Larry J. Embree, M.D.Larry J. Embree, M.D. ’57, in recognition of his special competence in Neuropathology, Neuro-Ophthalmology, Visual Electrophysiology, and Psychophysiology, and the outstanding job of passing the art and science of Neurology on to generations of medical students and neurology residents in a kindly and benevolent fashion.



Patrick H. Henry, M.D.Patrick H. Henry, M.D. ’58, in recognition of his brilliant intellect and dedication as a hematologist and oncologist, investigator and gifted teacher and his professionalism, scientific approach, attention to detail all wrapped in an envelope of compassion and human understanding.



Robert J. Adams, M.D.Robert J. Adams, M.D. ’81, in recognition of his scholarly contributions to scientific knowledge and the significance of his accomplishments in predicting and preventing strokes in our most vulnerable children.




B. Lawrence Riggs, M.D.B. Lawrence Riggs, M.D. ’55, whose work at the Mayo Clinic was instrumental in focusing physicians, the lay public, and policy makers on the magnitude of the problem of osteoporosis and in jump-starting the current upturn in research related to it.




Thomas Adrian Formby, M.D.Thomas Adrian Formby, M.D. ’50, a trusted family physician who has served his patients and community in an extraordinary fashion: balancing his family life with his medical practice, his spiritual life with his obligations to the larger community.




James J. Pappas, M.D.James J. Pappas, M.D. ’56, an Otolaryngologist recognized for his exemplary dedication to his patients, family, and community and for his commitment to the support of medical education.




Robert W. Arrington, M.D.Robert W. Arrington, M.D. ’68, Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Neonatology, who taught us to whisper, keep the noise down, and dim the lights in the nursery to minimize trauma to babies – he is high tech, with high touch.




Coy D. Fitch, M.D.Coy D. Fitch, M.D. ’58, a brilliant clinician, teacher, researcher, author, and expert in the treatment of malaria, and was the Drefs Professor and Chairman of Internal Medicine, St. Louis University School of Medicine.




Dola D. Thompson, M.D.Dola D. Thompson, M.D. ’49, retired Professor and Chairman of Anesthesiology, recognized for her genuine scholarship and academic leadership and her lasting legacy of excellence.




Charles E. “Pete” Kemp, M.D.Charles E. “Pete” Kemp, M.D. ’56, pediatrician, University of Arkansas trustee, and community stalwart.




E. Leon Barnes, M.D.E. Leon Barnes, M.D. ’66, whose contribution to the otolaryngology pathology literature is benchmark and whose two-volume textbook is the classic.




Roger L. Bone, M.D.Roger L. Bone, M.D. ’67, host of Internal Medicine Update, Dean and Vice President of Rush Presbyterian St. Luke’s Medical Center, President of Medical College of Ohio, renowned for new concepts in the management of sepsis and adult respiratory distress syndrome.




Raymond C. Goodman, M.D.Raymond C. Goodman, M.D. ’51, unselfishly dedicated to his patients, family and community and pioneer in the treatment of chronic pain decades before pain management became fashionable.




J. Scott Abercrombie Jr. M.D.J. Scott Abercrombie Jr. M.D. ’51, patient-centered President and CEO of Boston University Medical Center Hospital.




Joseph A. Norton, M.D.Joseph A. Norton, M.D. ’42, a prominent radiologist, Dr. Norton also received the College of Medicine Distinguished Service Award.




William Turner Harris, M.D.William Turner Harris, M.D. ’61, called “the authority in the Western Hemisphere” for clinical use of certain nuclear medicine modalities.




Thomas Edward Townsend, M.D.Thomas Edward Townsend, M.D. ’50, beloved dean of Arkansas pediatricians and loving honorary grandfather to all of his patients.




John A. Pierce, M.D.John A. Pierce, M.D. ’48, Selma and Herman Seldin Professor of Pulmonary Diseases at Washington University and one of our most loyal alumni.




M. Joycelyn Elders, M.D.M. Joycelyn Elders, M.D. ’60, Pediatrician, researcher, teacher, Director of Arkansas’s State Health Department, and U.S. Surgeon General.




A. J. Thompson, M.D.A. J. Thompson, M.D. ’68, who brought state-of-the-art cardiology to Central Arkansas and enduring bonds of trust to his patients.




James W. Headstream, M.D.James W. Headstream, M.D. ’39, Urology’s premier teacher and practitioner, Life’s premier gentleman, who also has been honored as recipient of the College of Medicine Distinguished Service Award.




Warren L. Carpenter, Col. MC, USAF, M.D.Warren L. Carpenter, Col. MC, USAF, M.D. ’65,most decorated Air Force physician, senior medical member on the Air Force astronaut selection board, hospital commander and command surgeon of 55 Air Force medical facilities worldwide, responsible for the early designs of the space suit and the F16 cockpit.



Kelsy J. Caplinger, M.D.Kelsy J. Caplinger, M.D. ’63, extraordinary human being, founder of MedCamps, and Bill Clinton’s allergist.




Thomas Allen Bruce, M.D.Thomas Allen Bruce, M.D. ’55,  distinguished physician and distinguished Dean, later Program Director for Health for the Kellogg Foundation.




Jack P. Whisnant, M.D.Jack P. Whisnant, M.D. ’51, the Mayo Clinic’s renowned neurologist, educator, and researcher.




Byron Gil Brogdon, M.D.Byron Gil Brogdon, M.D. ’52, winner of Radiology’s highest honor, the Gold Medal of the American College of Radiology.




Samuel Lee Kountz, M.D.Samuel Lee Kountz, M.D. ’58, whose work in immunosuppression has benefited transplant patients everywhere.




William J. Darby, M.D.William J. Darby, M.D. ’37, pioneer in the study of nutrition and health, known internationally as the “Father of Nutrition,” who also received a UAMS honorary degree in 1984.




Harry M. Meyer, M.D.Harry M. Meyer, M.D. ’53, National Institute of Health researcher and co-developer of the rubella vaccine.