400 celebrate 50th anniversary of pharmacy at URI

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College of Pharmacy alumni, faculty, students toast past, future

KINGSTON, R.I. – March 12, 2008 – It was billed as the 50th Anniversary Gala of the University of Rhode Island’s College of Pharmacy.

But Sunday’s celebration at the Newport Marriott marking the college’s opening year, 1957-58, was more like a reunion with young and old alumni reconnecting, faculty members sharing laughs about the early days and friends joining the night of comedy, dining and dancing.

“Tonight is about 50 years of dedication to excellence in teaching and research by our former and current faculty and the staff who support them, and it is about our hopes and dreams for even greater success in these areas in the future,” said Ronald P. Jordan, interim dean of the College of Pharmacy.

“Tonight is about a college that boasts the brightest, the most well prepared and the most well rounded pharmacy graduates in the New England region.”

Jordan talked about families with several generations that have studied at the College, husbands and wives who met at the College and alumni who are leaders in pharmacy, law and numerous areas of health care delivery.

“Tonight is about a College of Pharmacy inventors, innovation and highly successful entrepreneurs who have designed and patented new dose forms, developed new products and launched successful businesses that have improved peoples’ lives,” Jordan said.

Associate Dean Joan Lausier, who was the first woman appointed to the pharmacy faculty, began her remarks by singing the opening line from the “Welcome Back Kotter” sitcom, “Welcome back, welcome back, your dreams were your ticket out.”

“We have kept the home fires burning for you, and we want all of you to stay in touch and keep the relationship going with us,” Lausier said. “As I was thinking of what to say in recognition of our 50 years of pharmacy at URI, I realized that I have been here for 45 of those 50 years, either as a student, faculty member or administrator. I know all the dirt, I know all the joys and all of the sadness.”

Joyce Luzzi, the widow of Louis Luzzi, the second dean of the College who died last summer, offered some words of tribute to her husband and addressed the need to raise funds for the College’s new $75 million home. Voters approved a $65 million bond issue, for the building, but $10 million must be raised privately to complete it. Fogarty Hall, the College’s current home, long ago became obsolete and too small.

“Before he retired, Lou was often afraid that the building was going to fall down around him,” Joyce joked.

To help encourage donations to the building effort, Joyce that night committed $510.25 from the Luzzi family for each year following his 1959 graduation from URI.

In thanking Joyce Luzzi, Jordan said, “The generous gift from the Luzzi family totaling $25,000 brings the group of gifts dedicated to a new pharmacy facility naming opportunity for Dean Luzzi to nearly $100,000,” Jordan said.

He said now that several major events are behind the College, it can focus its attention on the University’s “Making a Difference” Campaign.

Earlier in the evening, Jordan thanked the event chairs, Celia P. MacDonnell, class of 1975 and Douglas Fisher, class of 1971.

MacDonnell and Fisher then introduced five individuals called “Cornerstones of the College,” individuals who played key roles in the College’s early years: Professor Emeritus Leonard Worthen, a member of the original faculty from 1957 and former associate dean; Professor Emeritus Yuzuru Shimizu, who came to the College in 1969 and is known as an international pioneer in researching drugs from the sea; Professor Alvin Swonger, who came to the College in 1971, and invented the “test bank” to prepare his students for exams; Associate Dean Joan Lausier, class 1967, who was the first woman faculty member in 1971 and loved by generations of students; and Professor Emeritus Norman Campbell, class of 1957, the last class at the Rhode Island College of Pharmacy and Allied Sciences, who came to the College in 1971, who taught law and ethics and was a mentor for hundreds of students.