MARCH 4, 2004 | In a March 2 history-making ceremony, T. Glenn Pait, M.D., and Jack Vander Schilden, M.D., became the first recipients of two endowed chairs in the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences College of Medicine, named after Little Rock businessman Jackson T. Stephens, who endowed the chairs.
During the investiture held in the Sam Walton Auditorium of the Arkansas Cancer Research Center, Pait was presented with the first Stephens Chair in Spine Surgery and Vander Schilden with the first Stephens Chair in Orthopaedic Sports Medicine. It marked the first time in UAMS’ history that a double investiture ceremony, at which the pair received medallions symbolizing their rank as chairholders in their departments has been conducted.
Pait is an associate professor in the Departments of Neurosurgery and Orthopaedic Surgery in the College of Medicine and director of the Jackson T. Stephens Spine and Neurosciences Institute at UAMS. Vander Schilden is a professor and head of the Sports Medicine Section in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery.
Warren and Jackson T. “Steve” Stephens, Jr., Jack Stephens’ sons, attended the ceremony, along with Arkansas Supreme Court Justice Ray Thornton and William Clark, former chair of the University of Arkansas System’s board of trustees. Pait’s wife Carol and his three daughters, Allyson, Kelly and Kathleen, and Vander Schilden’s wife Pam and daughter Tori were also on hand for the event.
Clark was among the speakers at the ceremony honoring Stephens and the UAMS physicians. Clark detailed the importance of the number of contributions Stephens and his family have made to UAMS over the years, most notably the $48 million donated to build the Stephens Spine and Neurosciences Institute.
Dean E. Albert Reece, M.D., Ph.D., M.B.A., of the College of Medicine called the Stephens Institute “tangible evidence of the strong philanthropic spirit of this state.” Both Pait and Vander Schilden thanked their families and co-workers for their support and the man for whom their honors are named.
“Jack Stephens realized that most of us will have spine problems sometime in our lives,” said Pait, who admitted that a chair in spine surgery had long been a dream of his. “But dreams are often the starting point for reality,” he added, crediting Stephens for launching a legacy in spine treatment.
Vander Schilden recognized Stephens’ contributions to sports both professional and amateur, and how his business expertise carried over into athletics. “(Stephens’) aggressiveness in business is well known,” said Vander Schilden, noting that Stephens didn’t take up the game of golf until he was 35 but nevertheless managed to master the sport. “He channeled some of his aggressiveness into golf.”
He concluded by saying, “We all have heroes in our lives. In my book, Jack Stephens is No. 1.”