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Foundation News

Pharmacy Alumni Chapter Creates UM Scholarship

Pharmacy Dean Barbara Wells and James A. Pittman Jr.
Pharmacy Dean Barbara Wells and James A. Pittman Jr.

OXFORD, Miss. – To help the School of Pharmacy at the University of Mississippi recruit and retain qualified students, the Pharmacy Alumni Chapter of the UM Alumni Association recently created a scholarship endowment bearing its name. The group plans to fund the endowment with proceeds from the annual pharmacy weekend golf tournament and gifts from other individuals and organizations.

“We recently talked to Scott Thompson (assistant director of alumni affairs) and pharmacy school officials about ways we could best help, and this scholarship endowment seemed to be just the ticket,” said James A. Pittman Jr. of Madison, the chapter’s president.

Last year’s tournament garnered more than $20,000. “Several corporations and organizations sponsored the tournament, plus some of our alumni and friends sponsored various holes around the golf course,” Thompson said. “Because of their generosity, our first tournament was a huge success.”

Today, four out of five pharmacy graduates complete their degree with nearly $50,000 in debt.

“Incoming students will have a greater financial burden because another year has been added to the pre-pharmacy program to address new ACPE (Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education) requirements,” said Laura Luther, pharmacy student body president. “I think it’s great that alumni recognize the importance of pharmacy education and are willing to give to ease the financial burden experienced by many students.”

Pittman, who earned his pharmacy degree from UM in 1980, worked a construction job to put himself through college. The experience deepened his desire to ease the financial burden of students pursing similar degrees.

“We made this a need-based scholarship, so it can be used to help students facing financial challenges or unexpected emergencies,” he said.

Thompson applauds chapter members for embracing the idea of providing scholarships for students.

“This endowment is their way of expressing appreciation for the impact their pharmacy degrees have on their lives,” Thompson said. “They simply feel that professionals who have found success in their field should support education to ensure that the next generation has the same opportunity.”

The endowment was created as part of the pharmacy school’s Promises to Keep Campaign, which has garnered more than $10 million in endowments for merit and need-based scholarships and fellowships, faculty support and a new pharmacy building at the UM Medical Center in Jackson. The final push for the campaign is raising funds for scholarships.

“We need to enable all qualified students to earn the professional degree,” said Marvin Wilson, associate dean for academic affairs. “We are immensely grateful to our alumni for helping to make this possible.”

The Pharmacy Alumni Chapter Scholarship Endowment is open to gifts from other individuals and organizations. To donate, visit http://www.umfoundation.com/makeagift
or mail a check to the University of Mississippi Foundation with the name of the fund noted to 406 University Avenue, Oxford, MS 38655.

Barbara Lago