The College of Medicine established the Distinguished Faculty Award in 1973 to honor exemplary faculty members who have helped to shape the institution. For many years, the award was presented by the Medical Alumni Association and its predecessor, the Arkansas Caduceus Club, during Alumni Weekend festivities.
In 2011, as part of the first annual Dean’s Honor Day ceremony, the college introduced the Distinguished Faculty Service Award, to recognize currently active faculty members who have exemplified broad-based, long-term service and dedication to the College of Medicine.
Billy R. Thomas, M.D, MPH
Dr. Thomas, a Professor in the Neonatology Division of the Department of Pediatrics, was honored for his many contributions as an outstanding neonatologist, award-winning educator and transformative leader in initiatives to ensure a diverse health care workforce for Arkansas during his 36 years to date on the faculty.
Dr. Thomas has been instrumental in developing pipeline programs to engage and encourage underrepresented minority students to pursue medicine and other health care professions. He served as Assistant Dean for Minority Affairs in the college from 1998 to 2004, when he was named an Associate Dean and founded the college’s Center for Diversity Affairs. When the center expanded campus wide in 2009, Dr. Thomas was named an Assistant Vice Chancellor. He served as UAMS Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Inclusion in 2011-2018.
A 1980 UAMS graduate, Dr. Thomas completed his residency in pediatrics at UAMS and Arkansas Children’s Hospital. He continued his training with a neonatal/perinatal fellowship at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland before returning to Arkansas and joining the faculty in 1986. Dr. Thomas’ research focuses on bone mineralization to optimize therapies for fragile preterm infants.
Christopher T. Westfall, M.D.
Dr. Westfall was honored for his work at UAMS from 1997 through 2021. Among many leadership posts, he served as Executive Vice Chancellor of UAMS and Dean of the College of Medicine in 2018-2021, and as Chair of the Department of Ophthalmology and Director of the Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute for the preceding eight years.
Dr. Westfall was lauded as a respected teacher and mentor, an excellent clinician, and an insightful, engaged leader. As Director of the Jones Eye Institute and inaugural holder of the Pat Walker Endowed Chair in Ophthalmology, he oversaw the growth of many programs and of the Eye Institute’s facilities. As Dean, he created new educational initiatives and cemented partnerships across the state to educate and train more primary care and other physicians for rural and underserved areas of Arkansas.
A West Point graduate, Dr. Westfall served in the military for 22 years, including as a surgeon in the U.S. Air Force and four years as the Chief Consultant in ophthalmology to the Air Force Surgeon General, prior to his retirement at the rank of Colonel and subsequent recruitment to UAMS.
Robert W. Bradsher Jr., M.D.
Dr. Bradsher was honored for his service in many leadership roles over the past four decades and for helping to train and mentor a generation of UAMS medical students, internal medicine residents and infectious disease fellows.
The 1976 UAMS graduate joined the faculty in 1980 and assumed leadership of the Infectious Diseases Division in 1986. He directed the Infectious Diseases Fellowship from 1986 to 2011, and led the division through 2018. Dr. Bradsher served as Program Director for the Internal Medicine Residency, one of the college’s largest, from 1994 to 2007. He was Vice Chair for Education in the Department of Internal Medicine from 1994 to 2019.
Dr. Bradsher has been lauded as a masterful practitioner of general infectious diseases and internal medicine. He is also widely known for his contributions to research and is a leading authority in the field of fungal infections, particularly blastomycosis. He has received numerous honors for teaching and clinical care.
G. Richard Smith, M.D.
Dr. Smith was honored for his decades of leadership in psychiatry and dedicated service in many other roles, including dean of the College of Medicine in 2013-2015.
The 1977 graduate has served on the UAMS faculty since 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. He established several nationally renowned research initiatives and also served as Founding Director of the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement.
After 32 years in the Department of Psychiatry, Dr. Smith was appointed Executive Vice Chancellor and Dean 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 as Department Chair and PRI Director in 2018.
Aubrey J. Hough Jr., M.D.
Dr. Hough held numerous leadership roles at UAMS for nearly 40 years. As Chair of the Department of Pathology from 1981 to 2002, he substantially grew the department and transformed it into a nationally known program.
He was an Associate Dean in the College of Medicine from 2003 to 2011, leading initiatives in translational research and special programs. He went on to serve as a special assistant to the UAMS Chancellor for four years, supporting translational research, new program development and facilitation of the Myeloma Institute.
Dr. Hough also served on and led numerous college and campus committees. He served two terms as Chief of Staff of UAMS Medical Center. He was promoted to Distinguished Professor in 2004, and in 2015 he was named a University Professor, the only person at UAMS to have received the University of Arkansas System honor. He became a Professor Emeritus in 2017.
Richard Thomas “Tad” Fiser, M.D.
Dr. Fiser was honored for his contributions in education, clinical care and scholarly work during his 14 years of service on the faculty of the Department of Pediatrics. The 1991 College of Medicine graduate completed his residency and fellowship at UAMS. He returned to UAMS as a pediatric cardiac intensivist in 2003 and began practicing exclusively in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) and working with the sedation team a few years later.
Dr. Fiser was a nationally recognized authority in extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO). He served as Medical Director of the ECMO program at ACH for 13 years and also led development of the adult ECMO program at UAMS. He was named Medical Director of the PICU in 2015.
After directing the Pediatric Cardiac Intensive Care Fellowship in 2005-2006 Dr. Fiser transitioned to leadership of the Pediatric Critical Care Fellowship, which was recognized as the college’s outstanding small training program in 2010. He received the department’s Educator of the Year award three times, earning Educator Emeritus status. Medical students recognized his teaching with the Red Sash award. Dr. Fiser died on July 25, 2017.
Robert E. McGehee Jr., Ph.D.
Dr. McGehee has been one of the most influential educators of medical and graduate students at UAMS for over two decades as well as a successful researcher and key administrative leader. He has served as dean of the UAMS Graduate School since 2004, and has held many other leadership posts, including interim chair of Biomedical Informatics in 2014-2015.
Dr. McGehee joined the faculty in 1993. He is a Professor in the Department of Pediatrics Neonatology Section and holds additional appointments in the departments of Physiology and Biophysics and Pathology. His research laboratory has made important discoveries in developmental molecular biology and the molecular mechanisms between type 2 diabetes and obesity.
Dr. McGehee played a key role in developing the freshman Medical Cell Biology course, which became part of the Molecules to Cells module. As the Course Director or Co-director for 12 years, he taught more than 2,000 medical students in their very first hour of classes, helping them understand the importance of basic science knowledge is crucial to the practice of medicine.
Richard P. Wheeler, M.D.
Dr. Wheeler, a 1976 graduate who joined the faculty in 1982 and currently serves as executive associate dean for academic affairs, has shaped and enhanced the College of Medicine’s curriculum, educational programs and student services for three decades.
Dr. Wheeler is also revered for the impact he makes on aspiring physicians as a champion of compassionate care and medical professionalism. Highly respected by students, he delivers a speech to incoming freshmen that stresses, “It’s not about you anymore.” Graduating seniors have selected Dr. Wheeler to deliver the address at Honors Convocation eight times, an occasion he uses to emphasize that for all that the students have learned, and all of the medical technology at their disposal, compassionate care remains the most important thing they can provide for patients.
James Y. Suen, M.D.
Dr. Suen has been a pillar in in otolaryngology-head and neck surgery and UAMS cancer programs for four decades. The 1966 UAMS graduate became chief of the Division of Otolaryngology in 1974 and has served as chairman since the program became the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery two years later.
Dr. Suen worked with fellow faculty members in the 1970s and 1980s to develop comprehensive cancer programs and co-found the Arkansas Cancer Research Center, now known as the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute. Dr. Suen was the third director, serving in 2001-2007. Meanwhile, he became internationally known for his expertise in complex head and neck cancers, vascular lesions of the head and neck, and diseases of the larynx.
Kent Westbrook, M.D.
Dr. Westbrook, a 1965 College of Medicine graduate, worked with colleagues through much of the 1970s and 1980s to develop comprehensive, multidisciplinary cancer programs at UAMS, culminating in the 1984 formation of the Arkansas Cancer Research Center (ACRC), the predecessor of the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute.
Dr. Westbrook served as ACRC director for 14 years. He was chief of the Division of Surgical Oncology from 1992 to 2003, when he was promoted to the rank of Distinguished Professor. He has been an associate dean and a member of the UAMS Chancellor’s Cabinet. Dr. Westbrook has been lauded for accepting the helm during key leadership transitions on campus, including service as interim chair of the Department of Surgery from 1999 to 2002 and as interim vice chancellor for UAMS Development and Alumni Affairs in 2011.
Patrick H. Casey, M.D.
Dr. Casey, a professor of pediatrics, has built renowned programs for high-risk infants and children since joining the faculty in 1979. He led the seminal Infant Health and Development Program in Arkansas, which led to the KIDS FIRST therapeutic day care program that has grown to serve children at 11 sites across the state and is a model for the entire country.
Dr. Casey established the Center for Applied Research and Evaluation (CARE), which has provided a supportive environment for the development of nationally recognized research programs such as the Center for Birth Defects Research and Prevention and the Injury Prevention Center. Dr. Casey and colleagues initiated the Medical Home Clinic for children with medical complexity at Arkansas Children’s Hospital. He was appointed vice chair for faculty affairs in the Department of Pediatrics in 2005.
Patrick W. Tank, Ph.D.
Dr. Tank was a beloved, award-winning educator, renowned anatomist and pillar in the Department of Neurobiology and Developmental Sciences from 1978 until his death in 2012. He taught the intricacies of the human body to more than 4,000 medical students, serving as a mentor for many of them as well for graduate students.
Dr. Tank directed the Medical Gross Anatomy Course, Anatomical Gift Program, education and anatomical education in the department. He was the inaugural holder of the Lutterloh Medical Education Excellence Professorship from 1998 to 2001 and served as interim chair of the department in 1999-2000. He oversaw the original development and a major expansion of the state-of-the-art Gross Anatomy Laboratory in its current location. Dr. Tank was a pioneer in web-based education. He also edited three editions of the widely used manual “Grant’s Dissector.”
Galen Wenger, Ph.D.
Dr. Wenger has served as a strong voice for excellence in medical and graduate education at UAMS since joining the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology in 1978 following a postdoctoral position at Harvard Medical School. In 2010-2011 the award-winning educator re-assumed leadership of the Medical Pharmacology Course for the fifth time. He directed the Pharmacology Course for graduate students eight times.
Dr. Wenger earned the respect and admiration of students and faculty colleagues for his dedication and ongoing efforts to improve the curriculum, lectures and other teaching sessions. He has served on dozens of committees and councils, chairing groups such as the Research Council, the Council for Academic Affairs and the Committee on Promotion and Tenure. He is an internationally known researcher and leader in behavioral pharmacology and the effects of drugs of abuse on cognitive function.
Distinguished Faculty Award Recipients (1973-2008)
|John Dornhoffer, M.D.
|R. Lee Archer, M.D., Class of 1982
|Galen R. Wenger, Ph.D.
|Laura Hutchins, M.D., Class of 1977
|A. Reed Thompson, M.D., Class of 1970
|John P. Shock, M.D.
|Debra H. Fiser, M.D., Class of 1977
|Thomas E. Andreoli, M.D.
|A. Wesley Burks, M.D., Class 1980
|Astride Brueck Seifen, M.D., Ph.D.
|I. Dodd Wilson, M.D.
|Carl L. Nelson, M.D.
|Bart Barlogie, M.D.
|Richard F. Jacobs, M.D., Class of 1977
|Dennis D. Lucy, M.D., Class of 1959
|Ernest J. Ferris, M.D
|Patrick W. Tank, Ph.D.
|Aubrey J. Hough, Jr., M.D.
|Louis L. Sanders, M.D., Class of 1955
|Phillip L. Rayford, Ph.D.
|Robert W. Bradsher, M.D., Class of 1976
|John F. Redman, M.D., Class of 1963
|Robert W. Barnes, M.D.
|Jerome K. Sherman, Ph.D.
|Richard V. Ebert, M.D.
|Marvin L. Murphy, M.D.
|Almen Leo Barron, Ph.D.
|James Yee Suen, M.D., Class of 1966
|Roscoe A. Dykman, Ph.D.
|Robert H. Fiser, Jr., M.D., Class of 1966
|Joseph Henry Bates, M.D., Class of 1957
|Shirley Ann Gilmore, Ph.D.
|John E. Peters, M.D.
|Lawrence E. Scheving, Ph.D
|James E. Doherty, III, M.D., Class of 1946
|Stevenson Flanigan, M.D.
|Roger Bost, M.D., Class of 1945
|Robert S. Abernathy, M.D.
|Betty A. Lowe, M.D., Class of 1956
|No award given
|No award given
|George L. Ackerman, M.D., Class of 1954
|Kent C. Westbrook, M.D., Class of 1965
|William J. Flanigan, M.D., Class of 1955
|James L. Dennis, M.D., Chancellor
|William G. Reese, M.D.
|Winston K. Shorey, M.D., Dean