Wednesday, September 1, 2010

It is my great pleasure to join you today on this truly auspicious occasion.

When the University itself is a little over 160 years old, we know that any program that boasts a 125-year history is pretty special. We have the fourth-oldest public pharmacy school in the United States, and one that is among the top 20 pharmacy programs in the country today. Clearly, Pharmacy at Iowa has a distinguished tradition and reputation, both old and new. Today, we are celebrating a tradition of excellence that spans a century and a quarter. I know that the faculty, staff, and students of the College are proud to be part of such a sterling legacy, but today we are also showing how proud we are of Pharmacy at Iowa across the entire University.

Health care and the health sciences are central to the University of Iowa’s identity, to the intellectual contributions that we make to the world, and to the applied service that we provide to our state and nation’s citizens. Pharmacy has been central to that mission since its beginnings. And it has kept its central place in our mission through, I believe, three distinguishing—and interrelated—characteristics: collaboration, innovation, and engagement.

In today’s world where interdisciplinary study and multidisciplinary practice in the health sciences are becoming the norm, the College of Pharmacy is at the forefront of collaboration. We see that, for example, in a recent $16 million National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences grant to the UI Superfund Research Program, which will support the study of the health effects of environmental pollutants in water, former industrial sites, and the atmosphere. Pharmacy scientists are joining their engineering, public health, and medicine colleagues on this important project. We will also continue see the College’s interdisciplinary collaboration as the Pappajohn Institute for Biomedical Discovery develops. Drug design, for example, will play a crucial role in the exponential progress that the Institute will make in treatments and cures.

This type of collaborative work is not new to the College of Pharmacy. Shortly after the turn of the twentieth century, the College took charge of dispensing all the drugs and medicines used by the University Hospital. At that point, no other college in the United States had ever done that before. On top of that, the College was also the first in the country to establish a pharmaceutical laboratory for the manufacture of products used by hospital patients.

The College’s collaborative emphasis has led to its cutting-edge innovation. The recently formed University of Iowa Pharmaceuticals is the largest and most experienced university-affiliated, FDA-registered pharmaceutical manufacturing facility in the United States. In fact, it is the only facility of its kind offering such a range and scope of services to its clients, whether they be in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries or government agencies. But the new UIP is the result of a merger of two well-established, historic initiatives in their own right: the Center for Advanced Drug Development and the Division of Pharmaceutical Service. And Pharmaceutical Service has been the national leader in university-based drug manufacturing for over 30 years.

Finally, the College of Pharmacy is a model of engagement on a campus noted for its spirit of service. We see that ethic of engagement within the College itself—from the newly formed 1885 Society, which will link alumni to students for mentoring and professional development, to the also-new Professional Outreach Development Societies, which facilitate peer-to-peer support and promote peer-to-peer education. But the College of Pharmacy is also a leader in giving directly back to the community and citizenry of our state and world. This dedication to engagement can be seen, for example, in the form of faculty research in Medicare drug benefits, or a pharmacy student spring break service trip to Mexico for a de-worming project.

The ethic of service and engagement is long-standing in the College. Pharmacy Dean Wilbur Teeters came to Iowa in 1895, intending to teach for a year and then become a practicing pharmacist. By 1904, he was Dean, and remained so for 33 years. During his tenure, Dean Teeters was noted for being involved in all aspects of University life and for being the most devoted of teachers, with a door that was always open. But he was also a deeply involved community member, serving as mayor of Iowa City from 1943 to 1946.

The profession of pharmacy has come a long way since the days of the corner druggist. Today, those who graduate from our College of Pharmacy will be dealing with medications, products, technology, health care systems, and even economic and financial issues unheard of not that many years ago. But thanks to the College’s legacy of collaboration, innovation, and engagement, which continues in its best forms into the 21st century, University of Iowa Pharmacy graduates will still bring the essential qualities of that long-ago corner druggist to their work—not just professional competence, but a sense of cooperation, imagination, and compassion in the health care needs of the people we intend to serve. The future of health care at the UI and throughout the nation will continue to depend on these qualities. As we embark on leading-edge discoveries and develop groundbreaking treatments and cures in the health science fields, the College of Pharmacy will be there for us to make sure that The University of Iowa remains a world leader. Just as it has done for 125 years.

Thank you for joining us on this very special occasion, and congratulations to the College of Pharmacy on a century-and-a-quarter of collaboration, innovation, and engagement.