Dr. Edith Irby Jones Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion Awards




Edith Irby Jones (December 23, 1927 – July 15, 2019) was an American physician who was the first African American to be accepted as a non-segregated student at the University of Arkansas Medical School (now the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences) and the first black student to attend racially mixed classes in the American South. She was the first African American to graduate from a southern medical school, first black intern in the state of Arkansas, and later first black intern at Baylor College of Medicine. Jones was the first woman president of the National Medical Association. She was honored by many awards, including induction into both the University Of Arkansas College Of Hall of Fame and the inaugural group of women inducted into the Arkansas Women’s Hall of Fame.    In addition to her distinguished medical career, Dr. Irby Jones was an activist for civil rights, working with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as part of the civil rights movement. She was the only physician and female member of the “Freedom Four,” who spoke across the South in homes and churches encouraging people to join the civil rights movement.

The Dr. Edith Irby Jones Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion award honors the legacy of Dr. Edith Irby Jones, who demonstrated ongoing courage in breaking racial and gender barriers in her commitment to provide health care to those in need.


The Chancellor’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee and the Center for Diversity Affairs are calling for nominations for two UAMS employees (one faculty and one staff) and a student for the 2019 Dr. Edith Irby Jones Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion Award. As the award title suggests, the nominees must have documented excellence in the areas of diversity and inclusion. The nominees shall have contributed to the understanding and value of diversity at UAMS and the campus environment and/or in the larger community through the promotion of better cross-cultural relationships.  The nominees shall have demonstrated one or more of the following:


  • Commitment to the spirit of diversity and inclusion through word and
  • Leadership through positive interactions with persons of diverse backgrounds and points of view.
  • Personal characteristics which foster respect for inclusion of persons within the institution or in the community who are members of traditionally underrepresented


The employee nominee shall be a regular full-time UAMS employee (faculty or staff). The student nominee shall be currently enrolled in a UAMS academic program with a regular course load and be in good academic standing. Self-nominations are not accepted. Nomination forms can be secured by accessing the Center for Diversity Affairs website: CDA.UAMS.EDU. The Chancellor’s Minority Recruitment and Retention Committee will review the nominations and select the award recipients.  We will present awards following the annual State of Diversity and Inclusion presentation during Diversity Month. Please complete and email all nomination forms to Odette Woods, at obwoods@uams.edu. Previous recipients are eligible for selection again after a period of 5 years. The deadline for submitting nominations is Friday, August 23, 2019.

“Strength lies in differences, not in similarities”
― Stephen R. Covey