Craig was born in Lubbock, Texas, to Georgia Mae Stotts and Harvey Rae Stotts, a bulldozer operator. He grew up in Lubbock and graduated from both high school and college in Lubbock (Texas Tech). He received a degree in sociology and minors in Spanish and zoology. He then moved to New York City and attended New York Medical College-Pace University, where he graduated 2 years later with a master’s degree as a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP). In 1977 he was among the first in the nation to be board-certified as an FNP. He was invited to Washington, DC, to set the practice and education guidelines for the Veterans Administration system’s nurse practitioners. While taking care of the elderly, diabetics, and other types of patients for 7 years at the VA, he also began teaching part-time and enrolled in a doctoral program at the Univ of Texas Health Science Center and graduated 5 years later with the Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) degree.
From Houston, he was recruited by the University of Texas-Austin to start the first community health nursing program at the master’s level. Besides accomplishing that, he also led a community group to prohibit smoking in most public places in Austin. After 4 years in Austin, he was recruited to the University of Texas Medical Branch-Galveston where he served as the Graduate Program Director. He led another group there (Galvestonians Against Smoking Pollution, GASP!) which also was successful in getting smoking banned in most public places.
Craig was then invited to continue his smoking research at the National Cancer Institute (part of NIH) which served as a post-doc fellowship. While there he was asked to become the director of the Smokeless Tobacco program which he accepted and changed the name to the Spit Tobacco program. He then was the Senior Scientific Editor on the government’s main book on spit tobacco. He also worked with Major League Baseball to break the link between baseball and spit tobacco. Together they were able to get it banned in the minor leagues but the unions were too powerful to ban it in the majors.
After a 2-year “tour of duty” at NIH, Craig was invited to accept a joint appointment with the Arkansas Cancer Research Center and the College of Nursing, UAMS, where he received federal grants to continue his spit tobacco research. He also worked as an epidemiologist on other researcher’s grants in the fields of colon, breast, and prostate cancer.
In 2001 Craig was recruited by the University of Tennessee-Memphis to start a doctoral program in Public Health Nursing. This program was the first of its kind in the world. Students come from all parts of the country and overseas. Craig retired from the Univ of Tenn in June 2007 and has turned the program over to one of his graduates. He plans to work part-time for the University of Texas-Arlington.
Craig’s first supervisor in the UAMS College of Nursing was a young lady named Cheryl Rhoads. Another person introduced them and told Cheryl that Craig was a Texan. Cheryl looked at Craig and said, “I don’t like Texans” (and she wasn’t smiling either!) Despite this, they were able to work together and became friends over time, finally resulting in matrimony in 1999 at FUMC chapel.
Craig’s older daughter, Maria Elena Bianciardi, is an RN living in Massachusetts with her spouse, and takes care of our 8th and 9th grandchildren. His younger daughter, Katie, graduated from Southwestern University in Georgetown, TX, and lives in Austin.
Craig’s hobbies include photography, music, theatre, and traveling. He plans to spend more time working on genealogy in his retirement years. He discovered his Arkansas roots are in Craighead County: His ancestors helped settle that county in the 1830s and his great-grandfather, John Wesley Stotts, was born there in 1875 (before moving to OK and marrying a Choctaw lady).
Cheryl and Craig have worked together in their own consulting business since 1998, giving workshops around the country to teach college faculty how to teach online. Craig taught the first fully Web-based course ever offered in the state of Arkansas. Cheryl was one of the first UAMS faculty to teach online, through a program funded by a federal grant that Craig received.
Cheryl was the director of the first statewide program for RNs to pursue their BSN from the Area Health Education Centers in Arkansas. She devised and implemented the program. Her research and national presentations were on polypharmacy in the elderly. In 2000, Cheryl received the UAMS Faculty Award for Community Service. Her service focused on development of nursing clinics, for the elderly in LR and NLR.
Cheryl was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Her parents, Levi and Gladys Rusher, moved to Sherwood, Ark, in 1947. Her dad worked for Frito-Lay and her mother was a school teacher. Cheryl has a brother, Jerry Rusher, who lives with his wife, Suzanne, in Indian Hills. Most of her childhood was spent having fun and then more fun, except for the torture she endured having a brother 8 years older. She treasures her memories of being blessed with a great mom and dad and ------- brother.
Cheryl has two children: Matt, who has blessed them with three grandchildren and Anna, who has blessed them with four grandchildren.
Cheryl graduated from UAMS with a bachelor’s in nursing and a master’s from University of Central Arkansas, Conway. She taught nursing 30 years at UAMS, teaching all nursing courses offered at UAMS CON over time (womb to tomb).
Cheryl’s hobbies include keeping up with 7 grandchildren that are within spittin’ distance and 2 others who live in New England, and managing a husband who is a Texan.
Cheryl and Craig have worked at FUMC in various capacities. Since 2007 they volunteered in the toddler nursery and for several years helped teach the Miracle Helpers class. Craig is now managing the website for the church, for the youth ministry, and for the CEC.