Robert Leroy “Lee” Archer, M.D., today became the inaugural recipient of the Major and Ruth Nodini Endowed Chair in Neurology at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS).
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.
Archer is associate professor in the UAMS College of Medicine’s Department of Neurology.
"Dr. Archer developed an interest in multiple sclerosis early in his career and has made it the primary focus of his clinical practice,” said UAMS Chancellor I. Dodd Wilson, M.D. “His compassionate care of patients and his dedication to finding new treatments to ease the burden of M.S. is well known throughout Arkansas and beyond.”
“We are honored that this chair will enable Dr. Archer to continue his valuable work with M.S. patients at UAMS,” said Sami Harik, M.D., chairman and professor of the UAMS Department of Neurology. “His contributions to our department and to families living with M.S. are beyond measure, and I am happy to work alongside him as he champions the fight against this disease.”
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.