A Don of All Trades

Longtime pharmacy employee has many talents

OXFORD, Miss. – Whether at work or at home, Don Stanford is always looking for the next adventure.

Once featured on National Geographic’s website, this photo, shot by Stanford with a remote control camera, shows Stanford camped in a red oak.

Once featured on National Geographic’s website, this photo, shot by Stanford with a remote control camera, shows Stanford camping in a red oak.

“I really enjoy doing anything new or anything challenging,” Stanford said. “I’ll be right in the middle of those projects to try to shepherd things through and make things happen.”

Stanford is assistant director of the Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, part of the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy. He first began working with the school as a senior research technician in 1980.

“Don has been an integral part of our team for years,” said David D. Allen, the school’s dean. “His talent is impressive on multiple levels.”

As assistant director of RIPS, Stanford oversees and directs the school’s infrastructure and research operations. He has organized a team that is responsible for facilities and information technology. The team is in charge of everything inside the school’s buildings, including research equipment.

Outside the School of Pharmacy, however, Stanford is just as ambitious. He said he loves to be outdoors and will “take any excuse to be outside.” A professional tree climber, Stanford has climbed trees that are 200 feet tall.

“For a while, I was going to the annual rendezvous for Tree Climbers International,” he said. “They held it in different places, in Oregon and Nebraska and Colorado. I would stay a week, and we would camp up in the trees.

“We would use a ‘tree boat’ to camp, which is a heavy-duty hammock that you sleep in. You use a harness to get up into the tree, and then you are anchored to a limb up above. When you sleep, you stay in that harness and never come out of it.”

In the past, Stanford has acted as a certified facilitator for various guided tree climbs.

“I’ve taken people up into trees – I always had extra equipment to rescue them if they got stuck,” he said. “People have their ceilings when it comes to heights. For some people it’s 20 feet off the ground, and for others it’s much higher.”

Stanford is also a member of an 800-acre hunting club in Lafayette County, though not for the reason one might think.

“I hardly ever hunt; it just gives me an excuse to go sit outdoors,” Stanford said. “I photograph the interesting things I see. I really enjoy nature photography.”

Stanford is known around the school for his interest in hot air ballooning. He began flying in 1979 after watching a PBS documentary about wildlife photographers using a balloon to photograph African animals.

After earning a commercial pilot license, which is required by the Federal Aviation Administration for passenger balloon pilots, Stanford flew at festivals in Canada and France. One of his most memorable flights was for a presidential candidate.

“In 1980 when Ronald Reagan was the Republican nominee for president, his campaign people hired me to fly at an outdoor rally in Columbus, Mississippi, where Mr. Reagan was to speak,” Stanford said. “The plan was for him to make his opening remarks; I would launch and fly over the stage while the audience was still applauding. Because it was very windy, we had to rush the launch and I interrupted Mr. Reagan in the middle of his opening remarks. He paused, looked up and said, ‘Wow!'”

Ole Miss Student Receives National Pharmacy Scholarship

Kelsey Stephens honored for leadership and commitment to profession

Kelsey Stephens (center) receives the Gloria Francke Scholarship from Lucy West, national APhA-ASP president, and Nick Capote, outgoing APhA-ASP president.

Kelsey Stephens (center) receives the Gloria Francke Scholarship from Lucy West, national APhA-ASP president, and Nick Capote, outgoing APhA-ASP president.

OXFORD, Miss. – Kelsey Stephens, a rising third-year professional pharmacy student at the University of Mississippi, has been awarded the $1,000 Gloria Francke Scholarship from the American Pharmacists Association Foundation Student Scholarship Program.

APhA student scholarships are awarded to students who “demonstrate school and community leadership, and a commitment to the future of pharmacy,” according to the organization’s website.

A Greenwood native, Stephens has served as professional year one, or PY1, liaison for the Ole Miss chapter of APhA-Academy of Student Pharmacists and as the chapter’s president-elect.

Francke was a nationally renowned leader in pharmacy. She served in a number of significant roles, some of which included acting as assistant director of the APhA Division of Hospital Pharmacy, serving as a drug literature specialist and serving as the honorary president of APhA. She was also the owner and operator of Drug Intelligence Publications.

Joseph A. Dikun, Stephens’ APhA-ASP adviser, said he knew that she was the perfect fit for this scholarship because she exemplifies the same leadership that Francke did.

“It has been a pleasure to watch Kelsey grow as a leader over these past few years,” Dikun said. “Since she began her service to APhA-ASP, she has completely invested herself into the success of the chapter.”

Through her leadership positions in APhA-ASP, Stephens has worked with the pharmacy student executive committee, as well as with her fellow chapter members to help develop new projects and operations within the APhA-ASP chapter. Some of those include Generation Rx, Operation GameDay, fundraising events, a table etiquette dinner and Operation Breathe.

“(Kelsey) has been a shining example of picking up the torch to ensure that the work of past leaders has not been done in vain through her dedicated service to improve our APhA-ASP chapter,” Dikun said. “As a result of that service, she has created a valuable member experience and provided care to the local community.”

Stephens said she is thankful for APhA’s focus on “advocacy, responsibility, organization and communication skills.” She said she hopes her experience in APhA-ASP will help her bring about change locally and nationally while helping to improve patient care.

“I am truly honored to be selected as the 2015 Gloria Francke Scholar due to her legacy as an outstanding female pioneer in the profession of pharmacy,” she said. “I aspire to influence the pharmacy profession in the same manner as Gloria Francke.”

Student Conducts First Study on Autistic Adults’ Quality of Life

Research outlines essential roles of family and friends

Krutika Jariwala-Parikh

Krutika Jariwala-Parikh

OXFORD, Miss. – A doctoral student in the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy has conducted the first U.S. study on quality of life among adults with autism.

Krutika Jariwala-Parikh, who graduated in May with a Ph.D. in pharmacy administration, wrote her dissertation on “Quality of Life and Health Care Utilization and Costs among Adults with Autism.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in 68 children is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. Jariwala-Parikh’s study focuses on how the disorder affects adults – the first of its kind.

Rahul Khanna, assistant professor of pharmacy administration, and Donna West-Strum, professor and chair of pharmacy administration, worked with Jariwala-Parikh on the project. Both faculty members were co-chairs on her dissertation committee.

“While I was exploring potential dissertation topics in the autism area, Dr. Khanna suggested looking at adults with autism,” Jariwala-Parikh said. “After doing a detailed literature review in that area, I realized that very few studies focused on outcomes among adults with autism.”

Khanna, who has previously conducted autism-related research, helped Jariwala-Parikh with various facets of the study such as conceptualization and data analysis. They acquired data by surveying autistic adults who were registered with the Interactive Autism Network. The surveys sought to determine whether coping technique, social support, severity of autism and functional independence had an impact on the respondents’ quality of life.

Jariwala-Parikh found that how adults cope with autism has a profound influence on their quality of life. Her dissertation outlines three key areas where family and friends of individuals with autism can play an essential role: helping with social support, functional independence and coping.

“The results of the study suggest that better coping abilities, social support and functional independence can lead to better quality of life among adults with autism,” Jariwala-Parikh said. “Some of the negative effects of severity of autism can also be reduced if better coping and social support is provided to these individuals. The results of this study can direct clinicians and family members’ focus on issues, which are modifiable and can be improved – such as better social support and coping – to ensure better health among this population.”

The study is timely, as Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant signed an autism insurance reform bill into law March 26.

“I commend Dr. Jariwala-Parikh and her colleagues for focusing on such an important topic,” West-Strum said. “Her study provides insight into the types of interventions needed to improve quality of life in patients with autism.

“It is exciting to see how this research provides support for the Mississippi autism insurance reform bill. It will be important for researchers to continue this research to advance patient care for autism patients.”

Khanna agreed that the research has great potential to influence policy and patient care.

“We feel that policymakers, health care practitioners and family members could use our results to better assist individuals with autism in improving their quality of life,” he said. “Health care practitioners could emphasize the provision of support and the use of positive coping when providing treatment to individuals with autism. Policymakers could invest in developing interventions that teach autistic individuals about positive coping techniques.”

The study was funded through grants from the Organization for Autism Research and the UM Graduate Student Council. Jariwala-Parikh commended those who helped her with the project.

“I’d like to extend thanks to my co-chairs and other faculty members in the pharmacy administration department,” she said. “I would especially like to acknowledge all of our study respondents for their participation.”

Author and Alumna to Present Hartman Lecture

Susan A. Cantrell to speak Thursday on pharmacy practice

Susan A. Cantrell

Susan A. Cantrell

OXFORD, Miss. – Pharmacy alumna and author Susan A. Cantrell will deliver the 2015 Charles W. Hartman Memorial Lecture on Thursday (April 2) at the University of Mississippi.

Sponsored by the School of Pharmacy, the lecture will be held at 11 a.m. in the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts. It is free and open to the public. Cantrell plans to discuss “The Patient Is In: Pharmacy Practice in the Era of Patient Empowerment.”

“We can’t wait to have Susan on campus as our 2015 Hartman lecturer,” said David D. Allen, dean of the school. “She is dedicated to mentoring student pharmacists, and we are thrilled that she will be able to interact with some of our students during her visit.”

Cantrell, who resides in Raleigh, North Carolina, is senior vice president and managing director of Americas for the Drug Information Association in Washington, D.C. She graduated from the pharmacy school with a bachelor’s degree in pharmacy in 1983.

Her recent book, “Letters to a Young Pharmacist: Sage Advice on Life and Career from Extraordinary Pharmacists,” shares insightful stories from seasoned professionals to help better prepare future pharmacists.

Involved in numerous professional organizations, Cantrell completed an American Society of Health-System Pharmacists-accredited hospital pharmacy residency program at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. She received her Certificate in Public Health from the University of North Carolina Gillings School of Public Health.

Cantrell is excited about returning to Oxford and visiting the School of Pharmacy.

“As a student, I was a recipient of a great deal of support and mentorship by so many outstanding faculty of the Ole Miss School of Pharmacy, without which I know I could not have been successful,” Cantrell said.

The Hartman Lecture was established at UM in 1973 to honor the late Charles W. Hartman, who was dean of the pharmacy school from 1961 until his death in 1970. Former lecturers include American Board of Medical Specialties President and Chief Executive Officer Lois Margaret Nora, former Mississippi Gov. William F. Winter, and U.S. Sens. Thad Cochran and Trent Lott.

For more information or assistance related to a disability, email sopdean@olemiss.edu or call 662-915-7267.

Pharmacy Administration Student Wins ‘Three Minute Thesis’ Challenge

Sujith Ramachandran takes 'Peoples' Choice' award during annual conference in New Orleans

UM pharmacy administration student Sujith Ramachandran (second from left) was one of the winners at the competition at the Conference of Southern Graduate Schools held in New Orleans. He’s congratulated by  Donna West, Christy Wyandt and John Kiss.

UM pharmacy administration student Sujith Ramachandran (second from left) was one of the winners at the competition at the Conference of Southern Graduate Schools held in New Orleans. He’s congratulated by Donna West, Christy Wyandt and John Kiss.

OXFORD, Miss. – A University of Mississippi student’s “Three Minute Thesis” was the audience favorite at the recent Conference of Southern Graduate Schools annual meeting.

Sujith Ramachandran, a pharmacy administration student from India, won the “Peoples’ Choice” award during the competition in New Orleans. Audience members, rather than judges, selected his “Honey, We Drugged the Kids!” as the best and most interesting presentation.

“It was an amazing feeling to be standing up there with the best students from across the South,” Ramachandran said of his honor, which included a $250 cash prize. “I also feel like it was a very good conclusion to my thesis project. My department helped me put all of it together, from the project to the final presentation, and Dean Kiss helped me take it to the Conference of Southern Graduate Schools. So it was a rewarding experience for everyone involved.”

Ramachandran’s entry was based on his master’s thesis project, titled “Determining physician and patient characteristics that predict the use of atypical antipsychotics in children with mental health disorders.”

“It is an attempt to understand physician decision-making in the area of pediatric mental health,” he said. “My thesis is basically an insight into what causes physicians to prescribe new-generation antipsychotics (such as Abilify or Seroquel) to children under the age of 18.”

Twenty-six students from major universities throughout the South competed in the 3MT finals. Each has won his or her university’s title. Ramachandran qualified for the contest by winning the UM competition in November.

UM administrators congratulated Ramachandran on winning the honor.

“The competition was very intense in that the best students from other 26 major schools, such as the University of Virginia, Auburn University and the University of Kentucky, were represented,” said John Kiss, dean of the UM Graduate School. “Sujith’s win also is a testament to the interesting and vibrant graduate programs we are building at our university.”

Provost Morris Stocks said Ramachandran’s honor adds to UM’s reputation for academic rigor.

“Any recognition of UM research, particularly from fellow scientists, speaks to the high caliber of our students and our formidable faculty,” Stocks said. “Mr. Ramachandran’s achievement at the CSGS annual meeting is another bragging point for our already renowned standing as Mississippi’s flagship university.”

Ramachandran, who completed his master’s degree last year, is a doctoral candidate and is working on his dissertation.

“I hope to finish my Ph.D. within the next year or two,” Ramachandran said. “I plan to join the pharmaceutical industry after my graduation, but my long-term goal is to work in the health policy arena to help fix the problems with health care cost and quality.”

The Three Minute Thesis competition celebrates the exciting research conducted by doctoral students. Developed by the University of Queensland, the exercise cultivates students’ academic, presentation and research communication skills. The competition supports their capacity to effectively explain their research in three minutes, in a language appropriate to a nonspecialist audience.

“Our 3MT program has done a great job of highlighting our graduate level studies as well as promoted interdisciplinary research,” Kiss said.

For more information on the Conference of Southern Graduate Schools, go to http://www.csgs.org/. For more information on the 3MT competition, see http://threeminutethesis.org/index.html.

Pharmacy School to Install New NMR Spectrometers

Expanded capabilities will support drug research

NMR spectrometers ole miss school of pharmacy university of mississippi drug-discovery process research development software nuclear magnetic resonance

Charles Hufford helped acquire new NMR spectrometers for the pharmacy school.

OXFORD, Miss. – Known worldwide for its excellence in drug-discovery research, the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy is installing three new nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometers to complete a suite of eight and enhance its research capabilities.

The machines, which analyze chemical and physical properties of molecules, are part of an overhaul of the school’s NMR capabilities.

“NMRs are an integral part of the drug-discovery process,” said Charles Hufford, retiring associate dean for research and graduate programs. “They are absolutely essential for the research that we do.”

The school upgraded its 600-megahertz machine in December. A 500-MHz machine and two 400-MHz machines were delivered in January to be installed in upcoming months. An additional four machines reside in various areas of the school.

Hufford facilitated the purchase of the new and updated equipment, which cost roughly $1.5 million in federal funds. The funds were approved as part of the recent construction of Thad Cochran Research Center West under Grant No. C76HF10917 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The school has decades of experience with NMRs, having purchased its first proton-only machine in 1969. Multiple upgrades have occurred over the years, including the purchase of a superconducting 2D-NMR in 1985 and the addition of three new machines in 1995 when Thad Cochran Research Center East was built.

Maintenance, or “care and feeding,” of the machines is time-consuming, Hufford said. Most of the work involves keeping them full of liquid nitrogen and helium. These liquids allow the machines’ superconducting magnets to function properly.

Frank Wiggers, principal research and development spectroscopist, is largely responsible for these tasks.

“The new instruments will help greatly with time and cost of maintenance due to their longer hold times for both nitrogen and helium,” Wiggers said. “The new software, through automation, will also remove some of the user error. This will give the researchers better quality data in a shorter time frame.”

The machines will further help the school’s researchers by allowing them more time in general to conduct spectroscopy. It is unique for a pharmacy school to own eight NMR spectrometers, Hufford said.

“I certainly don’t know of any pharmacy school that has eight NMRs,” he said. “Many research schools have that many, but they are associated with other departments. My pharmacy colleagues at other institutions are jealous when I tell them that we will have eight.”

UM Pharmacy Administrator Named Fellow of APhA

Alicia Bouldin recognized for professional achievement, service

Alicia Bouldin

Alicia Bouldin

OXFORD, Miss. – The American Pharmacists Association Academy of Pharmaceutical Research and Science has named Alicia Bouldin a 2015 APhA fellow.

Awarded to only 15 individuals this year, the designation honors members who have demonstrated exemplary professional achievements and service to the profession. Bouldin, an associate dean and professor in the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy, will be honored March 27-30 at the APhA Annual Meeting and Exposition in San Diego.

“To have been nominated was itself a humbling occasion, for that suggests that several of my peers felt that my contributions were worthy of noting in this way,” Bouldin said. “Then to have been selected by the committee was a thrill and a bit difficult for me to grasp.”

Bouldin, who serves as associate dean of outcomes assessment and learning advancement and professor in the Department of Pharmacy Administration, joined APhA as a student in the late 1980s. During graduate school, she became a member of the Academy of Pharmaceutical Research and Science, which she said opened her eyes to how the organization is involved with the practice and development of pharmacy and pharmaceutical sciences.

Through APhA, she was able to network and foster important development opportunities through the Economic, Social and Administrative Sciences section. She has presented research at the organization’s annual meetings and gained valuable feedback from colleagues nationwide.

Alicia Bouldin (center) was honored for professional achievements and service to the pharmacy profession.

Alicia Bouldin (center) was honored for professional achievements and service to the pharmacy profession.

As a faculty member, Bouldin has reviewed manuscripts for the association’s journal and served as adviser to the UM chapter of the APhA Academy of Student Pharmacists.

“Working with student leaders in that capacity for eight years was a privilege and taught me so much about leadership development and the potential of the next generation of pharmacists,” Bouldin said.

Tina Brock, associate dean and professor of clinical pharmacy at the University of California at San Francisco, organized nominations for Bouldin. John Bentley, UM professor of pharmacy administration, and Donna West-Strum, UM professor and chair of the Department of Pharmacy Administration, contributed nomination letters.

“There is no doubt that Dr. Bouldin is very deserving of this high honor,” Bentley said. “She is a distinguished teacher, an accomplished scholar and scientist, and a highly capable administrator. Furthermore, she is a passionate servant leader. She actively and enthusiastically demonstrates professional commitment through her participation and leadership in many different service roles, including as an active and contributing member of APhA for more than 20 years.”

Pharmacy Students Accept Johns Hopkins Internships

Experience offers chance to make hospitalwide effect on patient care

Rachel Lowe (left), Dean David D. Allen and Kelsey Stephens

Rachel Lowe (left), Dean David D. Allen and Kelsey Stephens

OXFORD, Miss. – Two University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy students have received and accepted summer internship offers from The Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland.

Kelsey Stephens, from Greenwood, and Rachel Lowe, of Memphis, Tennessee, both in their second professional year of pharmacy school, will participate in the Johns Hopkins Pharmacy Internship Program, which accepts fewer than 20 students annually. Johns Hopkins Hospital is consistently ranked as one of the leading health care institutions worldwide.

Stephens was encouraged to apply for the internship by Mary-Haston Leary, a third-year professional student who completed the program last summer. Stephens said the internship will provide an irreplaceable learning experience.

“This internship will not only provide me with an unforgettable learning opportunity, but will also help me develop into a more well-rounded future health care provider through personal and professional growth,” Stephens said.

Following a lengthy application process, Stephens received the call in February that she had been accepted into the Education Training and Personal Development internship, which will be located on-site at Johns Hopkins Hospital. The Education Division of the Department of Pharmacy trains and provides ongoing educational support regarding new policies, practices and drug therapies to the pharmacy staff.

As an intern, Stephens will assist with rotations, training, continuing education and staff development.

David Gregory, the pharmacy school’s associate dean for academic affairs, wrote a letter of recommendation on Stephens’ behalf. He said she has proven herself “time and time again” in both leadership and academics.

“Kelsey has been consistent in her commitment to practice in a clinical setting with a focus on research that improves patient care,” Gregory said. “She is dedicated to the profession, and I have no doubt that she will excel in this program.”

Lowe said she knew she wanted to expose herself to additional areas of pharmacy after interning at Walgreens last summer. She will be interning in the hospital’s Investigational Drug Services Department, where she will assist with dispensing investigational drugs, counsel research subjects, manage drug returns and summarize protocols and federal regulations for clinical drug trials.

Lowe said she is thrilled about the opportunity to be mentored by “experienced and brilliant pharmacists and staff” at Johns Hopkins. She said her experience at the UM pharmacy school has allowed her to develop and prepare for this internship.

“The School of Pharmacy truly fosters growth and excellence in each of its students,” she said. “The staff gives its time to further our education and development, and I am grateful to the faculty and the deans for their commitment to interacting with and encouraging students in all of their endeavors.”

John Bentley, pharmacy administration professor and Lowe’s faculty adviser, wrote one of her recommendation letters.

“Rachel is a scholar, a servant leader, a committed member of the pharmacy profession and a person of high integrity,” Bentley said. “She is an individual who learns for the sake of learning – to improve herself and to help others. I have been very impressed with her work ethic, her high standards and her willingness to go well above and beyond the basic requirements of pharmacy school.”

Both Lowe and Stephens will participate in weekly journal clubs, pharmacist and resident discussions, continuing education and individual research projects. They will also be able to shadow pharmacists in any specialty area of their choosing.

The internships begin June 1 and conclude July 31.

Pharmacy Alumna Receives Prestigious Teaching Award

Kelly Gable recognized for provider status, excellence in student instruction

Kelly Gable pharmacy ole miss university of mississippi pharmd alumna southern illinois university honor professional accolades teacher professor excellence

Kelly Gable delivers a commencement speech at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville.

OXFORD, Miss. – Kelly Gable, an alumna of the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy, has been awarded the Teaching Excellence Award from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville. Presented annually, the award is the highest teaching honor a faculty member at SIUE can receive.

Gable, who received her Pharm.D. from Ole Miss in 2004, is an associate professor in SIUE’s Department of Pharmacy Practice. She is the first School of Pharmacy faculty member to be given this recognition from SIUE.

“It is quite an honor,” Gable said. “I work with amazing faculty and have great respect for their work, both in the classroom and in their labs and practice sites.”

Gable’s teaching and professional accolades are numerous. She is the first and only clinical pharmacist in Missouri (SIUE is about 20 miles northeast of St. Louis) to achieve provider recognition from the Department of Mental Health, allowing her to provide psychiatric services to hundreds of patients in the greater St. Louis region. Her provider status also allows for reimbursement of her services through the state Medicaid system.

To gain this designation, Gable spent seven years working in the Missouri health care system as part of her service through her academic position at SIUE. She works clinically at Places for People, a nonprofit organization that provides care and services to those recovering from mental illnesses, providing Medication Therapy Services through a collaborative practice agreement with a psychiatrist there.

Gable is also an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Neurology and Psychiatry at St. Louis University School of Medicine. Involvement within mental health care was her initial inspiration to teach.

“I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to bring a better knowledge and awareness of the mental health care system to pharmacy, nursing, medical, education and social work students,” Gable said. “I recognized early on in my career the powerful impact one can have with each individual patient encounter, and that as an educator, you have the potential to touch even more lives through what you teach your students.”

Chris Herndon, also an associate professor in SIUE’s pharmacy practice department, said that Gable is “the quintessential clinical academician, blending scholarship and clinical service into her innovative teaching methods.” Herndon said his colleagues are very proud of Gable’s accomplishments.

Gable said she believes that her experiences at the UM School of Pharmacy have strongly influenced her success. One of her most influential mentors at the university was David McCaffrey, former professor of pharmacy administration.

“I was never a ‘model’ student, and he encouraged me to think outside of the box and to push the limits,” she said. “He encouraged me to finish the Pharm.D. program, and I have no doubt that his influence throughout my education at Ole Miss has allowed me to develop into the educator and clinician that I am today.”

Gable delivered the commencement speech at the university’s fall commencement ceremony. A combined love of her daughter and Dr. Seuss inspired Gable’s speech. Her advice is applicable to students everywhere.

“Be passionate about what you do. If it makes you happy to help people – do it,” she said. “If it doesn’t, do it anyway. Life is short and full of many gifts. Being kind, compassionate and caring is the best gift you can give.”

MIPA Donates $100,000 for Pharmacy School Renovations

Gift to support new skills laboratory for students

Mississippi Independent Pharmacies Association board of directors

Mississippi Independent Pharmacies Association board of directors

OXFORD, Miss. – The Mississippi Independent Pharmacies Association has pledged $100,000 to support the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy’s Faser Capital Initiative.

The initiative supports the most recent renovation of Faser Hall, one of the pharmacy school’s main buildings. A state-of-the-art skills laboratory for students is among the primary upgrades.

“The generosity of MIPA’s board of directors just leaves me speechless,” said David D. Allen, the school’s dean. “Their gift is a strong statement of their support for this renovation project. We are extremely thankful to the board and all MIPA members.”

MIPA serves to provide a unified voice for independent pharmacists in public-policy discussions. Formed in 2002, the association promotes independent, community pharmacies at state and national levels.

The organization’s members were eager to give back to the school, said Robert Dozier, MIPA executive director.

“We felt like we needed to give back to an institution that has given us so much,” Dozier said. “Our members feel very strongly about Ole Miss and the pharmacy school – they want to help the school and its students in any way they can.”

Many board members said that the pharmacy school has greatly influenced their lives.

“Our degrees at Ole Miss have provided us an excellent opportunity to make a good living and take our profession to another level,” said Brent Smith, MIPA board member and owner of Chaney’s Pharmacy in Oxford. “We looked at this opportunity as an investment in our profession. MIPA greatly appreciates the efforts of Dean Allen in his interest and outreach to independent pharmacy.”

Jerry Morgan, MIPA board member and owner of Okolona Drug Co., said he agrees.

“The School of Pharmacy gave us an opportunity to get out into the retail world and attain the results that we have,” Morgan said. “Pharmacy has been good to all of us on the board of MIPA – we’ve done well in our careers.”

Morgan said he is proud of the relationship between MIPA and the school. Bailey Melton, MIPA board chairman and pharmacist at Ashland Drug, echoed the sentiment.

“We appreciate the support that we get from the school,” Melton said. “We hope to continue a strong working relationship in the future.”

Dozier pointed to the school’s leadership as motivation for the organization’s support.

“We are very excited about Dean Allen and the work he has done since he has been onboard,” Dozier said. “They feel confident in his ability and leadership.”

To join MIPA in making a gift, send a check with Faser Capital Initiative noted in the memo line to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655. For more information, contact development director Raina McClure at rmcclure@olemiss.edu.