By Benjamin Waldrum
The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) has received a $1.14 million gift from the estate of Thomas McGill for the Department of Otolaryngology in the College of Medicine.
UAMS will honor McGill by creating an endowed chair in his name, said John Dornhoffer, M.D., department chair. A recipient will be named at a later time.
Thomas McGill, who died in March 2020, was one of four children — Josephine Tate “Dodie” McGill, Mary Helen McGill Adams and Samuel D. McGill Jr. — of Samuel D. McGill, M.D., and Helen McRae Watts McGill. In 1997, he and his siblings created the McGill Family Otolaryngology Research Endowment Fund in memory of their parents for head and neck cancer research. The family’s connection with UAMS started decades ago when Helen McRae Watts McGill was a patient under the care of James Suen, M.D., distinguished professor and longtime chair of the Department of Otolaryngology.
“Our department is grateful to Thomas, Samuel and Josephine McGill for establishing and contributing to the McGill Family Endowment, which supports many of our research projects,” Dornhoffer and Suen said in a joint statement. “They understood the importance of research and wanted this endowment to honor their parents. The funds from this endowment will allow us to make new discoveries that will improve the health care of future generations.”
Together, the McGill siblings donated nearly $5 million to the fund over the years. In addition to the future Thomas McGill chair, the fund has created two other endowed otolaryngology chairs: the Samuel McGill Otolaryngology Research Chair, held by Dornhoffer, and the Josephine T. McGill Chair in Head and Neck Cancer Research.
Thomas McGill was born in Camden, Arkansas, in 1932. After graduating from Camden High School, he enrolled in Magnolia A&M (now Southern Arkansas University). After two years, he transferred to the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, where he received a bachelor’s degree in business. Upon graduating, he accepted a commission with the U.S. Navy Reserve and spent a tour of duty as a gunnery officer aboard the Gearing-class destroyer USS Glennon. His business interests were in land and timber, and he spent considerable time outdoors, particularly at the family home at Mustin Lake.
An endowed chair is among the highest academic honors a university can bestow on a faculty member and is established with gifts of $1 million, which are invested with the spendable distributions from the endowment used to support the educational, research and clinical activities of the chair holder. Those named to a chair are among the most highly regarded scientists, physicians and professors in their fields of expertise.
Created in 1969, the Department of Otolaryngology includes a team of faculty, fellows, residents and nurses at UAMS Medical Center, Arkansas Children’s and the Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System. Otolaryngologists treat diseases and disorders of the ear, nose and throat (ENT) and related structures of the head and neck. For the second consecutive year, U.S. News & World Report ranked the UAMS ENT program in the top 50 nationwide.