UH Hilo College of Pharmacy gets help promoting diversity from Walgreens

January 23, 2009

The University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo College of Pharmacy received a $10,000 check this week from retail pharmacy Walgreens to fund a diversity initiative at the University. Walgreens also presented a check for $20,000, the second donation toward a $50,000 pledge, to support the building fund for the newly established pharmacy college.

The check was presented in a ceremony attended by Walgreens officials as well as students and faculty at 5:30 p.m. on January 20 in the Forestry and Natural Resource building in Hilo.

"This timely gift helps us to join the rest of the nation in recognizing the need for diversity programs," said College of Pharmacy Dean John Pezzuto. "We’re very appreciative of the generous contribution from Walgreens and their commitment to support local students. We have made great strides in a relatively short time because everyone has shared the same vision to make this a center of excellence."

The funds include a $2,000 scholarship fund to aid in programming for underrepresented students. The gift is part of a Walgreens commitment to donate $1 million annually toward diversity initiatives at all of the more than 100 pharmacy schools across the country.

"Our future pharmacists of Hawaiʻi will be uniquely positioned to positively influence the health and wellness of their local communities," said Dr. Luoluo Hong, UH Hilo vice chancellor for student affairs and acting athletic director. "A gift such as this helps our students more effectively serve the extremely diverse, multicultural communities in which they will be living and working."

With this new initiative, Walgreens said it hopes more students will be encouraged to consider the contributions they could make as front-line health professionals in America’s neighborhood drugstores.

"We’re glad to be partnering with UH Hilo to develop this first home-grown, world-class

College of Pharmacy for students here in Hawaiʻi and throughout the Pacific," said Clark Fujihara, Walgreens district pharmacy supervisor for Hawaiʻi. "We’re always looking for great pharmacists and with the anticipated national shortage of pharmacists, it’s good to know there will be a new generation of pharmacists in the pipeline ready to serve our growing aging population and the complex pharmacy needs of the future."

The College of Pharmacy was officially launched in 2007 and was awarded candidate accreditation status by the Accreditation Council of Pharmacy Education in July 2008. The College will be eligible for full accreditation when its first class of students graduate from the four-year program in 2011.

The donation to the building fund will help the College meet those accreditation requirements. Building has already begun on a four-acre parcel on South Aohoku Place near the `Imiloa Astronomy Center. Plans call for up to four modular buildings that will be the home of future classrooms, offices, research and teaching laboratories for the College of Pharmacy.

For more information about the UH Hilo College of Pharmacy, call (808) 933-2909 or email pharmacy@hawaii.edu.

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