Smiles, hugs usher in return of annual Crimson Gala

There’s no feeling quite like that of seeing an old friend after years apart. This October, Cougar pharmacy students and alums greeted one another with hugs and smiles as they came together at the first Crimson Gala since 2019. The annual Crimson Gala is a celebration of pharmacy leaders who shape the profession for future generations as well as all of those who help to pave the way for future Cougar pharmacists through their guidance and leadership.

Proceeds from the Gala are further put towards the advancement of future pharmacy leaders in the form of scholarships for current and future doctor of pharmacy students. Thanks to the sponsors, attendees and donors to the two new scholarship endowments, the gala raised over $50,000 this year. If you would like to contribute to student scholarships, please contact Kelly Sylvester, director of development and alumni relations, at or call 509-368-6675.

Congratulations, to the awardees celebrated this year:

R. Keith Campbell Lifetime Achievement Award

This award recognizes a track record of excellence in pharmacy, patient care, advocacy, research, service and mentoring or teaching. At this year’s Gala, John Oftebro (’65) Linda Garrelts MacLean (’78) were honored for their outstanding commitment and service to the college and the pharmacy profession.

John Oftebro

John Oftebro (center) with his children, Mary Gandee and Ryan Oftebro who helped to present their father with the R. Keith Campbell Lifetime Achievement Award

After John Oftebro was selected for the award in early 2020, pandemic restrictions put a pause on events. This year the college was finally able to recognize Oftebro and honor his 50-year career spent advancing the profession and mentoring student pharmacists.

During his time as owner of Kelley-Ross Pharmacy in Seattle, Oftebro expanded to six locations, and established a residency program. One of the most important lessons John instills in the pharmacy students he mentors is that advocacy for the pharmacy profession is critical to future success. He has spent years walking the talk serving as president of the WSPA, American College of Apothecaries, and WSPA Foundation. Following his retirement in 2008, Oftebro started serving on the college’s Dean’s Advisory Council and as a WSU Foundation Trustee. He credits his success to building relationships, taking risks, and not just filling prescriptions.

Linda Garrelts MacLean

Linda Garrelts MacLean (left) with fellow 1978 classmate Holly Whitcomb Henry, who helped to present Linda with the R. Keith Campbell Lifetime Achievement Award.

As co-owner of Jones Pharmacy and during her 25-year career at the college, MacLean has always been an inspiration to all those around her. She is known for her business acumen and leadership, as well as her warm personality. MacLean has served as vice dean for external relations and interim dean at the college as well as the advisor for the National Community Pharmacists Association’s business plan competition, helping lead students to national recognition with several first-place and top 10 wins. In her current role as professor emeritus, MacLean serves as the president of the board for BAVI Health and continues to advocate on behalf of community pharmacists as vice president of the Community Pharmacist Foundation.

In addition to her Lifetime Achievement Award, the college took the opportunity to recognize MacLean’s 25-years of dedication to the college with an award in the shape of a glass heel to recognize her retirement in 2021.

Alum of the year

2021 Alum of the Year, Leon Alzola (left) was presented his award earlier this month at our annual Crimson Gala by 2019 Alum of the Year Manpreet Chahal.

The Outstanding Alum award was established by the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences Dean’s Advisory Council in 1991. The award recognized alums for personal achievements and contributions to community, society at large or the health care profession.

The 2021 awardee, Leon Alzola (’91), National Director for Kroger Health, has spent the majority of his career continually creating opportunities not just for himself, but for the many people he has mentored in pharmacy for over 30 years. These efforts are well exemplified by his hand in the creation and growth of the Fred Meyer Alum-Student Mentor Program at the college, which has since benefited hundreds of WSU student pharmacists.

In addition, the college chose to recognize all the frontline workers who put others’ health above their own every day during the pandemic as the 2020 Alums of the Year.

Preceptors of the Year

Through teaching and mentorship, preceptors guide pharmacy students as they work with patients in a variety of health care settings. These experiences are pivotal in determining a pharmacy student’s future career. In a testament to the importance of preceptors, every year students submit over 400 nominations for the annual Preceptor of the Year award. In 2021, the college extended the award criteria to include not only Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experience (APPE) preceptors but Introductory Pharmacy Practice Experience (IPPE) preceptors as well.

Left to right: Will Grooms, Glen Chase, Taylor Bertsch, Tyler Fischback, Mays Vue, Aleksander Heyfetz


Glen Chase (’15), APPE
Will Grooms, APPE
Mays Vue (’10), APPE
Mussie Yonas (’09), IPPE and APPE


Vikash Patel, APPE
Taylor Bertsch (’16), IPPE
Tyler Fischback (’09), APPE
Penny Melder, APPE
Garett Manion (’07), IPPE


Aleksander Heyfetz (’14)
Daniel Healey (’15)

Mentors of the year

Eight years ago, the college established a mentoring program with Fred Meyer, which pairs alum mentors with students to share their wisdom and experience with the next generation of Cougar pharmacists. Through the program, alum mentors guide students through the four-years of their pharmacy education and help them prepare for their future careers. In recognition of this influential work, each year the college selects mentors from student nominations for the Mentor of the Year award.

2020 Mentor of the Year Tyler Fischback (left) shakes hands with 2021 Mentor of the Year Doug Crafton.


Mikayla Cornwall (’02)


Doug Crafton (’78)


Jimmy Leonard (’16)
Tyler Fischback (’09)