501 Life Magazine | UCA to honor two on March 30

501 Life Magazine | UCA to honor two on March 30

The most important celebration of the yr? It’s a definite risk. 

The College of Central Arkansas will host Laurels and Stripes, a scholarship fundraiser, at 7 p.m., Saturday, March 30, within the UCA HPER Middle. Organizers promise it’s a Night time of Distinction by no means seen earlier than – celebrating distinguished alumni, supporting scholarships and altering lives, all whereas having fun with the Memphis Soul Revue.

Tickets are on sale now at

The occasion will honor two distinctive people, the 2019 Distinguished Alumni Award recipients Elizabeth “Liz” Blankenship and Dr. Barbara Williams. 

Distinguished Alumni Award recipients are acknowledged for excellent contribution to the college, group, state or society; excellent achievement in a specific subject of endeavor; possessing a popularity that enhances the status of the college and serves for instance to UCA college students; and contributing to the objectives or the welfare of the college.

Contact Beth Adair at [email protected] or 501.450.3378 for sponsorship info. 501 LIFE is a sponsor of the occasion.


She is an entrepreneur, innovator and caregiver. Elizabeth (Liz) Blankenship’s profession spans greater than 40 years with devoted service to the creation and help of high quality healthcare and assisted dwelling amenities for seniors. 

Blankenship’s schooling on the College of Central Arkansas started in an uncommon method. After her husband was transferred to the Little Rock Air Pressure Base from Wichita, Kansas, Blankenship was fearful she wouldn’t give you the option to end her nursing schooling. Nevertheless, she was in a position to switch into an revolutionary program provided at UCA to full her preliminary nursing diploma in 1975. 

Blankenship lives by the motto, “Never, never, never give up.” She continued her schooling on the College of Texas at Arlington whereas working full time in Muskogee, Okla., elevating two youngsters, taking 30 hours a semester and making weekly journeys to Texas to attend courses. She graduated from UTA with a BSN in 1988. Throughout this time, she additionally co-authored “Patient Education in Home Care,” revealed by Aspen Publishers Inc. in 1988.

Upon her return to Arkansas in 1992, she bought an 11-bed residential care facility in Heber Springs. This transfer additional ignited her ardour for a profession offering look after seniors, particularly these recognized with Alzheimer’s.

As a registered nurse, and proprietor and operator of assisted dwelling communities, Blankenship targeted on a dedication to high quality. This dedication was at the start in designing and creating the packages on the 4 assisted dwelling amenities she developed, owned and operated in Arkansas together with her daughters, each of whom are UCA alumnae. She utilized the 4 High quality Measures developed by the Nationwide Middle of Assisted Dwelling (NCAL), devoted to the idea of person-centered care. She served on the NCAL High quality Committee for a number of years.

Blankenship designed and constructed the primary assisted dwelling, home-style cottages in Arkansas to guarantee every resident had a personal house in a comfortable homelike surroundings. The cottages allow the residents to stay as unbiased as potential whereas offering wanted help. These cottages ensured person-centered dwelling and allowed the amenities to meet buyer satisfaction at 98 %. Three of her 4 amenities acquired Nationwide Bronze High quality awards. The Heber Springs facility additionally gained the Arkansas Governor’s High quality Award. 

Blankenship was one of many first NCAL state leaders representing Arkansas. NCAL’s management allowed her to mentor different state leaders. And as medical advisor, she assisted the business in adapting to the growing acuity ranges with insurance policies, packages and schooling to meet NCAL’s 4 High quality objectives. She was a 2015 nationwide conference participant within the Nursing Leaders Spherical Desk: Ideas From Dynamic Leaders.

As an advocate for high quality look after seniors, she has served on quite a few boards and committees. In response to new licensure procedures for long-term care by the 2001 Arkansas Legislature, she served on the Arkansas Division of Well being committee on Lengthy Time period Care to help in writing the principles and laws that govern assisted dwelling packages at the moment.

Moreover, Blankenship was the primary president of the Arkansas Assisted Dwelling Board of Administrators, serving for six years, whereas additionally serving on the Arkansas Well being Care Affiliation Board (AHCA) for 13 years. This yr, she acquired the AHCA’s prestigious George O. Jernigan Award in recognition of her service and contributions to the long-term care business.

Blankenship has additionally served on the Group Advisory Committee for the Hartford Middle of Geriatric Nursing Excellence on the College of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and on the Governor’s Alzheimer’s Activity Pressure beneath former Gov. Mike Beebe and Gov. Asa Hutchinson. Blankenship was named a Conway Enterprise Lady of the Yr in 2015. She is a member of Sigma Theta Tau Nursing Honor Society and a licensed gerontology nurse.

She at present serves as a member on the UCA School of Well being and Behavioral Sciences Advisory Board and is a steady advocate for the Faculty of Nursing. Via her generosity, UCA’s Nursing Simulation Lab was outfitted with a high-fidelity manikin, in addition to cameras, microphones, a management station and different gear to document scholar efficiency.

Blankenship retired this yr, however she continues to give again. She encourages staff to return to school and proceed their nursing schooling via the schooling reimbursement program she started in her enterprise. She strives to encourage single moms and encourages them by reiterating her personal motto, “Never, never, never give up.” 

A pioneer for high quality assisted dwelling, Blankenship’s impression on the long-term care business shall be felt throughout the state and area for years to come.


Barbara (Garner) Williams is retired chairperson of the College of Central Arkansas Faculty of Nursing. Her legacy continues via her college students’ impression on healthcare and her continued advocacy for the nursing career throughout the state and area. 

A local of Searcy, Williams got here to UCA on the recommendation of a highschool counselor who inspired her to pursue a baccalaureate diploma in nursing slightly than a diploma from a hospital faculty. She is grateful for that recommendation to this present day.

Williams, a 1971 UCA graduate, acquired her grasp’s diploma from Texas Lady’s College and her PhD from the College of North Texas. After a number of years of medical follow and educating at a group school, she was appointed to the nursing school at UCA in 1978. She assumed the place of chairperson in 1990 and held that place till her retirement in 2016. 

Throughout her time as chairperson, Williams oversaw vital enrollment progress, a number of graduate specialty tracks and the event of a brand new diploma program, the Physician of Nursing Follow. She guided the division in new methods of delivering schooling, initially educating graduate programs off-campus, then educating by way of compressed video, to educating a number of levels and tracks on-line. 

Moreover, she recruited prime nursing professionals from throughout the area and had a big influence on elevating consciousness of the state’s nursing scarcity with the Arkansas Legislature. She has additionally served in management roles in numerous native, regional and nationwide nursing organizations and was named Nurse of the Yr by the Arkansas Nurses Affiliation in 1999. 

Williams has served on quite a few boards together with the Conway Regional Well being System Board of Administrators. Her preliminary six-year time period started in 2010, and she or he was elected as board chairperson in 2014 for a two-year time period. Of serious accomplishment throughout her time as chairperson was main the group via the method of discovering an affiliation companion and evolving that course of right into a five-year administration settlement with CHI St. Vincent of Little Rock. This partnership was the primary of its type in Arkansas and resulted in vital enhancements in efficiencies via improved contracting and collaboration. 

She additionally served on the board of the Arkansas Affiliation of Hospital Trustees for eight years and was appointed president for 2013-14. As president, Williams served on the board of the Arkansas Hospital Affiliation. She was appointed to a regional coverage board of the American Hospital Affiliation in 2013 and served for six years. She now serves on the Trustee Management Council of the American Hospital Affiliation. 

Williams was introduced with the distinguished Arkansas Hospital Affiliation Chairman’s Award in 2014. The award is simply given on the discretion of the AHA chairman and isn’t introduced yearly. On the presentation of the award, the AHA chairman said that Williams had been a mentor for hospital trustees within the state and has represented trustees each in Arkansas and nationally at regional coverage board conferences of the American Hospital Affiliation in discussions about essential well being care points and the worth of governance schooling. 

In 2016, Williams was requested to serve on the CHI St. Vincent Board of Administrators as well as to her position on the Conway Regional board. “It has been a privilege, these past years, to work with hospital leaders and trustees across the state as we all strive to provide quality care to our communities” Williams stated.

As well as to her different roles, she additionally supported the transfer to create the Nursing Alumni Chapter as a part of the UCA Alumni Affiliation. She has helped maintain and develop the chapter and annual membership continues to develop.

Her imaginative and prescient and management positioned the UCA Faculty of Nursing as one of many prime packages within the area and created a basis for its increasing influence on healthcare within the state.

“We have alumni who have been in nursing throughout their entire careers. That tells me that UCA is preparing students who are ready for the field, who are not going into career shock, and who are able to adapt. The feedback we get from employers about the quality of our former students is very positive and reinforcing. They speak very highly of their ability to think critically and their ability to work well with others.” Williams stated.

Williams continues her help of the Faculty of Nursing via advocating for essential healthcare initiatives, mentoring college school, college students and alumni, and thru her continued sponsorship of scholar scholarships and school improvement.