Inauguration of The Society of the Double Helix
On March 10, 1998, the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences inaugurated the first major
donor recognition program called The Society of the Double Helix. By establishing the Society of
the Double Helix, UAMS gratefully acknowledged the generosity of the founding members that
included 142 individuals, corporations, foundations and organizations that have cumulatively
contributed $100,000 or more since the institution’s establishment in 1879.
The Recognition Committee of the UAMS Foundation Fund Board spent three years in researching
and studying outstanding donor recognition programs at major medical centers that culminated
in the inception, design and implementation of the Society of the Double Helix. The name of the
Society was inspired by the distinctive shape of the DNA molecule as the fundamental building
block of life.
The members’ names were placed on a 42-foot-wide wall display near the entry of the Harry P.
Ward Tower. The design is based on the intertwined ribbons of the DNA molecule, and it
echoes the pattern of “The Miracle of the Double Helix,” a nine-foot bronze sculpture by
Arkansas artist Hank Kaminsky that stands outside the Harry P. Ward Tower.
“The double helix structure of the DNA molecule is an appropriate symbol for this distinguished
group whose individual contributions have continued to advance the central mission of UAMS:
to teach, to heal, to search, to serve,” a panel on the wall reads. “The vertically spiraling coils of
enveloping ladder-like horizontal crossbars are often compared to pathways to future discovery
and a staircase to success,” it continues.
Following the unveiling of the donor wall, an afternoon reception honoring members of the
Society followed the unveiling ceremony. That evening the members attended an inaugural
dinner at the Excelsior Hotel, heard remarks by Nobel Laureate Frederick C. Robbins, M.D.,
and received a replica of “The Miracle of the Double Helix” sculpture.
Through the years the philanthropic contributions of members of the Society of the Double
Helix have helped advance the comprehensive mission of the University of Arkansas for
Medical Sciences to achieve international recognition.