Message from the Dean
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
We are in the final stretch of 2020, which makes me reflect on this incredibly tumultuous year. Though we have all had to make sacrifices this year for the health and safety of our loved ones, and our community as a whole, the silver lining to this difficult year has been a newfound appreciation for the simpler things in life.
Along with being grateful, I’m also proud of what we have accomplished despite a challenging year. From the onset of this pandemic, our goal was to keep our students on track with their education. Though seemingly simple, it required a lot of dogged determination and thinking outside of the box. Rearranging schedules, an all-hands-on-deck approach, and a lot of early planning ensured our students continued to progress in our program. With the clarity of hindsight, I’m even more confident that we played our cards right. Thank you, students, faculty and staff, for pulling together during these difficult times. Your quick thinking and swift actions helped move our college to virtual instruction in a week as the rest of the world began shutting down borders, businesses, and everything in between.
Even amid these difficult circumstances, in 2020 we still managed to have big wins. We safely trained our students so that they could receive their certification to vaccinate, enhanced our PharmD program with several dual degrees and certificates in business, engineering and communications, and awarded 285 scholarships totaling nearly $340,000 this calendar year. I’m proud that we can continue to offer our students one of the best PharmD programs on the West Coast, and certainly the most affordable.
With this season’s festivities, also comes much sorrow. As many of you may know by now, we lost two of the most beloved titans in the Washington state pharmacy community. Bert Porter (class of 1951) and Bill Gaskins (class of 1969) passed away weeks apart in November. Both were alumni of our college and lifelong contributors to our students and the pharmacy profession as a whole. Since learning this sad news, we have received an outpouring of messages from alumni and colleagues on how these two men have impacted hundreds, if not thousands, of lives through their mentorship, community activism and friendships. To honor their legacy, you can view their scholarship funds here.
With 2020 coming to a close, I hope you will have a chance to reconnect with loved ones (even if virtually), take a mental break from the chaos of this year, and remember to appreciate the simple things in life. One of the things that I am truly appreciative of is being able to reconnect with many of our alumni. The upside to this pandemic has been the ability to meet with alumni near and far at the click of a button. In recent weeks I have attended five “fireside chats” with the classes of 1965, 1976, 2000, 2010, and 2015. Thank you, John Oftebro ‘65, Sue Merk ‘76, Sarah Beatty-VanDeMark ‘76, Julie Akers ‘00, Manpreet Chahal ‘10, Connie Remsberg ‘10, Dalari Allington ‘10, Amanda Norman ‘15 and Jennifer Miller ‘15 for organizing these reunions as an opportunity for our alumni to get reacquainted and reconnect with the college. If you would like to organize a “fireside chat” (fireside not required—but I do have a pretty snappy virtual fireplace on Zoom), please don’t hesitate to reach out to Director of Development and Alumni Relations Kelly Sylvester. It has been a joy to hear what all our alumni have been up to and where our paths have crossed. For example, I learned during a chat last week that Dalari Allington (class of 2010) is Director of Pharmacy at Providence St. Mary Medical Center in Walla Walla, where I worked as a hospital pharmacist in 1984-85. I’m hoping that my classmates from 1983 will organize one of these chats so that we can all reconnect!
From our Cougar family to yours, wishing you all a warm, happy and healthy holiday.
Mark Leid, Professor and Dean
WSU College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences
Editor’s note: This is the final newsletter for the 2020 calendar year. The next CougaRx News will be published in February 2021. Happy Holidays!