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August 2023

Message from the Dean

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

I am delighted to announce the successful start of our Doctor of Pharmacy program for our first-year students. Orientation concluded last week with two successful White Coat ceremonies in Yakima and Spokane. The halls have been abuzz with energy and enthusiasm, and it has been a joy to meet our new students. Our first-year future pharmacists hail not only from our local communities in Washington but also from as far as Canada, Wisconsin, and Michigan. The diversity and breadth of experiences they bring with them enrich our academic environment and offer a promising outlook for the future of pharmacy. Our recently reduced out-of-state tuition has garnered significant interest from talented individuals across the nation, fostering a dynamic and inclusive learning environment that will help to meet the growing demand for skilled pharmacists and health care providers right here in Washington state.

We recently had the honor of hosting our esteemed Industry Advisory Board on campus. Researchers and representatives from various pharmaceutical companies across the country came to Spokane to share their invaluable insights into the future landscape of drug development and therapeutics. Their input provides us with a compass to navigate the evolving health care arena with perspectives on how best to equip our PharmD, PhD, and future undergraduate students with the skills and knowledge required to improve patient outcomes. It is through partnerships like these that we ensure our graduates are not only academically accomplished but also primed to excel in an ever-changing health care landscape. The culmination of this two-day meeting was marked by our Research Day, where our dedicated summer undergraduate and graduate researchers showcased their outstanding work across our research labs. Their dedication and creativity continue to underscore the significance of rigorous scientific exploration in shaping the future of health care.

Although we kicked off the year with great success, the start of the academic year also ushered in intense brush fires and hazardous smoke both in eastern Washington and Maui. Many of our alumni, students, faculty and staff in Spokane and Maui are facing the impact of these fires, and our thoughts are with the Coug community as they endure these challenging times.

As the summer season draws to a close, I find myself reflecting on the remarkable pace at which our school has evolved. This period has been characterized by relentless energy, determination, and an unwavering commitment to our shared goals. To our faculty members, whose dedication to nurturing the minds of our students remains an inspiration, and to our staff, whose tireless efforts make every facet of our operations seamless – I extend my heartfelt gratitude. To our students, your eagerness to embrace new challenges define the Coug spirit. And to our broader community, your support and engagement are the foundation upon which we build a brighter future for pharmacy and health care.

The summer may have passed in the blink of an eye, but I enter the school year with renewed energy. Thank you for being an integral part of our vibrant community. Here’s to an even better year ahead and we hope you can celebrate with us in October for homecoming in Pullman and the Crimson Gala in Spokane!


Mark Leid, Professor and Dean
WSU College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences

Cougs Connect

A note from Julie Akers

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

While it has been a busy summer full of meetings and conferences, it has also been very inspiring. In July, Dean Leid and several faculty and staff attended the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) Annual Meeting in Aurora, Colorado. Once again, our program was acknowledged for excellence through several awards, presentations, and recognitions of service. I couldn’t be prouder of our college. Some highlights include Kim Mickey presenting at the multiday admissions workshop also attended by Jennifer Miller (’15) and Laura Lagreid. Megan Undeberg (’01) gave a presentation at the History of Pharmacy Special Interest Group (SIG) meeting, and I was recognized for my service over the past year as chair of the Leadership Development SIG. A big congratulations goes to Kimberly McKeirnan (’08) for being one of five faculty nationwide awarded the AACP Council of Faculties Emerging Teaching Scholar Award. This award is designed to recognize excellence of academic pharmacy faculty engaged in and/or supporting scholarly teaching and the scholarship of teaching and learning. And, to top it off, the award was presented to Kim on her birthday! In addition, the Laboratory Instructors SIG awarded the Laboratory Innovation and Teaching Excellence (LITE) award to our faculty Kim McKeirnan, Alexa Powell, and Kavya Vaitla for their work related to the development of a mental health simulation for second-year pharmacy students. Congratulations!

August 12-14 was the National Association of Chain Drugstores (NACDS) Total Store Expo in San Diego, California. I was asked to present findings from a research project funded by the NACDS Foundation involving community pharmacists providing direct access to quality patient care for minor illnesses and conditions. There were many other sessions focused on food as medicine, social determinants of health, and sustainable business models, emphasizing the role pharmacists and technicians have in making their communities healthier. Discussions centered on Medicare Advantage offering qualifying patients financial assistance for healthy foods as well as how AI and automation can free up the pharmacist from traditional dispensing duties to allow more time to provide quality clinical services. Several attendees, including leadership from other national associations, were excited to see the progress the Equitable Community Access to Pharmacist Services Act (ECAPS) bill is having at the federal level and seemed confident the bill could make it through congress this year. There was a genuine excitement for the profession of pharmacy, the transition from product to service, and a commitment by some of the largest pharmacy retailers in the nation to ensure their pharmacy staff have the support they need to navigate this change in a feasible and sustainable way.

In a time when so much focus is on the hardships some are facing in our profession, which are very real, it was inspiring to be surrounded by those who are dedicated to improving the pharmacy workplace while being innovative change agents, pushing the profession forward.

I couldn’t be more excited for our current and incoming student pharmacists, their future, and to see their impact on the health of our communities.

With my best and Go Cougs,

Julie Akers, Associate Dean of External Relations

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