Dr. Jim Raczynski, dean of the Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS), was invested April 20 as the inaugural recipient of the M. Jocelyn Elders, MD, Chair in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention.
[Photo: Dean Jim Raczynski]
Dr. Raczynski, professor and founding dean of the College of Public Health since 2002, has focused the college’s mission on health promotion and disease prevention to improve quality of life for entire communities.
An endowed chair is among the highest academic honors a university can bestow on a faculty member and is established with gifts of at least $1 million, which are invested and the proceeds used to support the educational, research and clinical activities of the chair holder. Those named to a chair are among the most highly regarded scientists, physicians and professors in their fields.
Dr. Raczynski thanked the donors who helped establish the chair, and acknowledged his wife, Dr. Martha Phillips, an associate professor in the College of Public Health’s department of epidemiology, and their extended family in attendance.
“I am deeply honored to receive this chair, and to have my name associated with Dr. Elders, whom I deeply respect,” Dr. Raczynski said. “We will use this chair to work to create a center for women’s health that will address the issues of teenage pregnancy and risk sexual behavior, while providing educational opportunities and treatment options.”
During Dr. Raczynski’s time as dean, the College of Public Health was accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health in a record two years. It expanded from four initial faculty members to 59, and from 90 graduate students to 270, spread across 24 different education programs. His leadership has helped create multiple practice, research and educational partnerships between the college and academic institutions, organizations and agencies throughout Arkansas.
Dr. Raczynski received his Master of Science and doctor of philosophy degrees in clinical psychology at The Pennsylvania State University, completed his clinical psychology residency training at the University of Mississippi Medical Center and became a faculty member at the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 1981, where he remained for 21 years prior to assuming his current position at UAMS.
He serves as the founding principal investigator and director for two federally funded research centers: the Arkansas Center for Health Disparities, funded through the National Institutes of Health (NIH); and the Arkansas Prevention Research Center, funded through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). His research involves primary prevention of chronic diseases and racial and ethnic health disparities.
Dr. Raczynski has helped the College of Public Health create a diverse public health workforce well-suited to help solve Arkansas’ health issues, particularly those related to health disparities. He has focused his research on health promotion and disease prevention in the predominantly African-American and rural Arkansas Delta region.
He has a long distinguished research career, with funding from over 30 extramural grants and contracts from the NIH, CDC, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. He has published more than 100 peer-reviewed papers and book chapters, and three books.