SEPT. 27, 2001 | Sounding an upbeat tone, UAMS Chancellor I. Dodd Wilson, M.D., chronicled “an interesting year” during his first State of the Campus address on September 24. He embraced the responsibility of tackling challenges and outlined how to move the institution forward.
“You may be pleased to know – I certainly am pleased – that I’m enjoying my job,” Dr. Wilson said. “It’s appropriately challenging. It’s not overwhelming, but it’s got some big challenges.”
Referring to the terrorist attacks of September 11, he was proud of the fact that there has not been an anti-Arab backlash on campus. “We’re the most diverse place in Arkansas. Our goal is to make sure that our diversity works in positive ways. We should treat everyone on the basis of what they do and who they are; not on the basis of stereotypes.”
His 50-minute talk in Pauly Auditorium focused on three main points: the dramatic financial turnaround at UAMS, the implementation of Act One as a road map for Arkansas’ tobacco settlement proceeds, and the establishment of the first new college at UAMS in decades – the College of Public Health. Wilson praised former College of Medicine Dean Thomas Bruce, M.D., for accepting the appointment of Dean Pro Tem of the new college that was created with funds from the state’s tobacco settlement.
He included in a list of achievements the opening of the Donald W. Reynolds Center on Aging, the plan to open seven satellite Centers on Aging operated in conjunction with the Area Health Education Centers (AHECs) around the state, and the addition of a seventh AHEC in Helena. He cited the successful recruitment of a new dean for the College of Medicine, E. Albert Reece, M.D., Ph.D., M.B.A, who comes to UAMS from Temple University School of Medicine.
Most of his remarks were directed toward the Phoenix-like financial comeback of UAMS in the past year. “We were in trouble,” Wilson said of the period between July 1998, and June 2000, when UAMS showed a shortfall of $50 million. “In retrospect, 1998 to ’99 was probably worse than the accounting figures indicated.”
The turnaround followed austerity measures that affected the entire campus. Wilson explained that hiring a new Director of Patient Billing Services (Joe Haney), and a new Chief Financial Officer (Dan Riley), and retaining a “big six” accounting firm (Arthur Anderson, Inc.) as a consultant helped UAMS turn the corner.
“This last year and the year before we hunkered down. And now it’s time to get back on track and think about what we want to be,” he said. Wilson wants UAMS to have the technology and necessary tools to “become more of a learning institution.” A new contract between University Hospital and an outside firm will be a first step toward fully computerized patient records.
He predicted that the institution faces a worsening shortage of personnel in many teaching positions. Wilson said the tobacco settlement funding presents great opportunities for university researchers. He envisions an increased emphasis on genomics and proteomics; and also on bio-informatics to assist scientists in their analysis of research. He’s also exploring the possibility of creating a new position of Vice Chancellor for Research.
To hear audio clips from the Campus Address, click here.
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Audio Clips: http://www.uams.edu/today/092701/audio.htm