The UAMS satellite campus in Fayetteville
In 2008, more than $3 million was pledged toward the UAMS expansion. Those funds are helping pay for renovations to the former Washington Regional Medical Center building to accommodate the campus. The UAMS Area Health Education Center (AHEC) Northwest also will move its existing health education and medical care programs into the facility this year. Fundraising is continuing with a $17 million goal to fully renovate and prepare the facility.
“We’re finding our donors understand how important this effort is to the region and the entire state,” said Dr. Peter O. Kohler, vice chancellor for the northwest Arkansas region. “It will allow us to increase our enrollment in a way not possible on our Little Rock campus and produce more physicians, nurses, pharmacists and allied health professionals in the future.”
Giving was highlighted in November 2008 when a trio of Arkansas philanthropists gave a total of $1.5 million toward the effort. Donations of $500,000 each were announced from Don Tyson and the Tyson Family Foundation, the Willard and Pat Walker Charitable Foundation and Johnelle Hunt. That gift was announced two days after a $300,000 gift to the project from the Walton Family Foundation.
There also was a $100,000 gift in August 2008 from the Northwest Arkansas Community Foundation, a group whose mission is encouraging philanthropy across the region.
“It is exciting to see the momentum building behind the UAMS satellite campus because of the long-lasting impact it will have on the state,” said Johnelle Hunt, widow of J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc. founder J.B. Hunt and a longtime member of that company’s board of directors, on the day the gift was announced.
Ultimately, the campus will have 250 to 300 students along with resident physicians when full enrollment is reached. He said that will not happen until 2012, when the renovation work is complete with laboratory equipment and other resources to accommodate the pharmacy, allied health and other students who will fill out enrollment.
Kohler said medical and pharmacy students will complete their first two years of school at the UAMS campus in Little Rock. Then some could transfer to the satellite campus to complete the last two years.
Northwest Arkansas was identified as the prime location for the campus because it has enough potential clinical partners — including hospitals, clinics and pharmacies — where students and resident physicians gain experience with the latest medical technology or treating real patients in supervised settings. The UAMS campus in Little Rock and UAMS programs around the state that host clinical education for students and resident physicians are not able to accommodate enough new students, Kohler said.