JUNE 6, 2007 | “Beloved” by his colleagues and patients, Robert Leroy “Lee” Archer, M.D., was honored on June 5 for his contribution to the field of neurology, and specifically the treatment of multiple sclerosis. 


“Dr. Archer is recognized as a superb, caring and thoughtful physician,” said I. Dodd Wilson, M.D., chancellor of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) during a ceremony naming Archer the inaugural recipient of the Major and Ruth Nodini Endowed Chair in Neurology at UAMS. Archer is associate professor in the UAMS College of Medicine’s Department of Neurology. 


The endowed chair was established with more than $1 million in donations from friends and family members of Archer, all of whom wish to remain anonymous. The chair will allow Archer to continue his research of multiple sclerosis (M.S.) and his treatment of patients with the disease. 


“This is a great day for the Department of Neurology at UAMS,” said Sami Harik, M.D., chairman and professor of the UAMS Department of Neurology. “Dr. Archer is a dream faculty member. He is deserving and worthy of this honor, not because he has published many landmark articles, but because he is beloved by both his students and his patients.” 


In addition to Wilson and Harik, other speakers at the ceremony included Debra H. Fiser, M.D., dean of the UAMS College of Medicine, and Ambra Jackson, a patient of Archer.


When none of the donors asked that their name be used in regard to the endowed chair, Archer requested that it be named for Ruth White Nodini and the late Emerio “Major” Nodini, his wife Nancy’s aunt and uncle and lifelong supporters of the couple. 


Born in Lake Village, Ark., Major Nodini was the son of Italian immigrants. He was a member of the highly decorated Tank Battalion during World War II, where he saw action in North Africa, Italy, France and Germany. 


After the war, he returned to Arkansas where he met and married Ruth White. Major Nodini died in 1984. 


A teacher in the El Dorado Public School System for more 50 years, Ruth White Nodini also taught at the college level in both Magnolia and El Dorado. She earned a master’s degree in economics and education and has been awarded numerous accolades including Outstanding Business Teacher in Arkansas. 


“In their personal and professional lives, Ruth and Major demonstrated a spirit of generosity and service that served as an example to all,” Archer said. 


A native of El Dorado, Ark., Archer earned a bachelor’s degree in natural sciences from the University of Arkansas and a medical degree from UAMS, where he also completed his internship and neurology residency. He has served on the UAMS faculty for about 21 years. 


Archer achieved the rank of associate professor in 1992 and has received numerous teaching and humanitarian awards from students and colleagues. 


An endowed chair is the highest academic honor that can be bestowed by a university on its faculty. The first named chair was established in England in 1502, when Lady Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry VII, established the Lady Margaret Professorships of Divinity at Oxford and Cambridge. An endowed chair at UAMS is supported with designated gifts of $1 million or more. A donor may name a chair in memory of a loved one or to honor a person’s accomplishments.