UAMS College of Medicine Celebrates Faculty and Staff Excellence

Service. Innovation. Selflessness. Gratitude. These were some of the words used as the UAMS College of Medicine honored faculty and staff members for exemplary service and accomplishments in education, research and clinical care at the ninth annual Dean’s Honor Day ceremony on April 24.

Dr. Messias at podium

Master of Ceremonies Erick Messias, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H., welcomes the audience, explaining that the College of Medicine established Dean’s Honor Day in 2011 to celebrate the “outstanding contributions, work and character of our colleagues.”

“For me, this is one of the most rewarding events of the year,” UAMS Executive Vice Chancellor and College of Medicine Dean Christopher T. Westfall, M.D., FACS, told faculty and staff members, families and other guests in the Fred Smith Auditorium on the UAMS campus.

“It is a time to pay tribute to some of those who have excelled in their work and service to our college,” he said. “I also want to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to all of our faculty and staff who pursue excellence on a daily basis. It is a privilege to be a part of the College of Medicine team.”

Award presentation on stage

COM Dean Christopher T. Westfall, M.D., (left) presents Dr. Smith with an art glass bowl by Arkansas artist James Hayes. Jeffrey Clothier, M.D., (center) nominated Dr. Smith.

G. Richard Smith, M.D., was presented the Distinguished Faculty Service Award for his decades of leadership in psychiatry and dedicated service in many other roles, including dean of the college in 2013-2015.

“Dr. Smith has served in a number of leadership positions and has been excellent in every single one,” Westfall said before joining with Smith’s nominator, Jeff Clothier, M.D., in presenting the award. He added, “Dr. Smith set the bar for what a dean should be.”

Smith thanked his family and colleagues after Westfall and Clothier discussed his broad service and impact and presented him with an art glass bowl by Arkansas artist James Hayes to commemorate the honor.

Audience with smiling faces

Audience members including Manisha Singh, M.D., and Nithin Karakala, M.D., both of the Division of Nephrology in the Department of Internal Medicine, enjoy the Dean’s Honor Day ceremony. Dr. Singh presented an award. Dr. Karakala was honored for his promotion to associate professor.

“This afternoon I am especially grateful to all of the men and women who work alongside me in the college,” Smith said. “It is both an honor to work with you and an honor to work with you to serve the important needs of the people of the state of Arkansas. This place and its people are truly amazing.”

A 1977 UAMS graduate, Smith joined the Department of Psychiatry in 1981. He became the Marie Wilson Howells Professor and Chair of Psychiatry in 2001. The highly regarded UAMS Psychiatric Research Institute (PRI) opened under his leadership in 2008, bringing comprehensive inpatient and outpatient care, research and education together in one location.

“Rick’s perseverance can be seen – literally – in the building that houses our department, the Psychiatric Research Institute,” said Clothier, a professor and executive vice chair of the department and medical director of PRI. “He labored for years to raise the funds to build PRI, along with its expert staff, and to raise public awareness of why the institute was so crucial for Arkansans and for those who may come to Arkansas for treatment here.”

“Dr. Smith’s commitment to PRI and our faculty and staff has been matched only by his dedication to improving the quality of training that we provide, and hence also the quality of care that is provided outside of UAMS,” Clothier said.

Dr. Pulliam and Dr. Westfall shaking hands

Liz Pulliam, Psy.D., is greeted by COM Dean Christopher Westfall, M.D., at the reception after the ceremony. Pulliam, an assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics Division of Psychology, is being promoted to associate professor.

After 32 years in the Department of Psychiatry, Smith was appointed executive vice chancellor of UAMS and dean of the College of Medicine in 2013. He stepped down in 2015 to return to the department where he had dedicated so much of his career. He was once again appointed department chair and PRI director in 2018.

Smith founded several nationally renowned research initiatives, including the Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System’s Health Services Research and Development Field program for Mental Health and the Center for Outcomes Research and Effectiveness in the Department of Psychiatry. He was also the founding director of the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement and a leader in securing the state’s tobacco settlement and its focus on improving health care for Arkansans.

Clothier noted Smith’s positive impact through numerous other leadership roles, including his current leadership of the Advisory Board for the Arkansas Prescription Drug Monitoring Program and service as medical director for the Arkansas Department of Health’s Substance Misuse and Injury Prevention Branch. Smith works with the Arkansas Medical Society and other organizations in an effort to change physician behavior about opioid prescribing while still ensuring adequate pain relief for patients.

Dr. Barnes with a family

Dean’s Honor Day is a family event. C. Lowry Barnes, M.D., (left) greets the family of faculty member Laura Hollenbach, M.D., and Seth Hollenbach, M.D., a 2006 College of Medicine alumnus. Laura Hollenbach is being promoted to associate professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, where Dr. Barnes is serving as interim chair in addition to his post as chair of Orthopaedic Surgery.

The ceremony included 12 individual awards for faculty and staff; recognition of 58 faculty members receiving promotion in rank or promotion with tenure and six faculty members who were named Professors Emeritus; and the investiture of the sixth Lutterloh Professor for Medical Education Excellence.

In addition to Smith, Faculty Award recipients were:

Master Teacher Award

Robert Arrington, M.D.
Department of Pediatrics

Educational Innovation Award

Kedar Jambhekar, M.D., and Linda Deloney, Ed.D.

with appreciation for Rachel Pahls, M.D. (medical resident)
Department of Radiology

Screen showing black/white footage; people in foreground

Radiology Chair James McDonald, M.D. (at podium) began his presentation of the Educational Innovation Award unconventionally, with a dramatic movie trailer like video promoting an educational “escape room” game developed by faculty members Kedar Jambhekar, M.D., and Linda Deloney, Ed.D., (on left) and radiology resident Rachel Pahls, M.D.

Educational Research Award

Carol Thrush, Ed.D.
Department of Surgery, COM Graduate Medical Education

Excellence in Research Award

Nicola Edge, Ph.D.
Department of Family & Preventive Medicine

Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award
Presented by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation

Michael Mancino, M.D.
Department of Psychiatry

Residency Educator Awards

Jerad Gardner, M.D., Dermatopathology Fellowship

Shashank Kraleti, M.D., Family Medicine Residency

Investiture of the Lutterloh Medical Education Excellence Professorship

David Davies, Ph.D.
Department of Neurobiology & Developmental Sciences

Read more about the 2019 faculty award honorees.


Staff Excellence Award recipients were:

Lacie Covington, M.B.A.
Department of Radiology

Shalese “Fitz” Fitzgerald, M.S.
Department of Family & Preventive Medicine

Andrea Easom, M.N.Sc., APRN
Department of Internal Medicine/Division of Nephrology

Paul Stover, M.B.A.
Department of Orthopaedic Surgery

Read more about the 2019 staff honorees.

View list of faculty members receiving promotion or promotion/tenure.