How time flies! Just four years ago, we ushered in a new era of healthcare in San Antonio with the opening of the Feik School of Pharmacy. At a memorable ceremony in the fall of 2006 symbolizing their commitment to the pharmacy profession, that inaugural group of students donned white coats amid high hopes and expectations for themselves, their families, the university and especially South Texas, which has long had an acute shortage of pharmacists.
The fruits of their labor materialized with the program’s first graduation in May, when 67 students received their doctoral degrees in pharmacy. With annual starting salaries often over $100,000, the graduates will have their pick of jobs within the pharmaceutical profession.
What’s also notable about the first graduating class is that in a profession that’s historically had few practitioners from racial or ethnic minority groups, 69 percent of the pharmacy graduates are Hispanic, African American and Asian American, representative of what we refer to at UIW as the Texas of Today and Tomorrow. This is an important distinction for Texas in the 21st century, as it’s now one of four states in the country where minorities are the majority population.
Perhaps the best news of all is that the graduation of the first class allowed the pharmacy program to gain full accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education.
Many people, both at UIW and in the external community, deserve credit for the success of the pharmacy program. Let me recognize three who were particularly instrumental: Dr. Terry Dicianna, our retired chancellor whose initial investigation made it possible for us to move forward with a pharmacy program; John Feik, the school’s namesake whose generosity allowed us to construct a state-of-the-art facility; and last but definitely not least, the school’s founding dean, Dr. Arcelia Johnson-Fannin. Her tireless efforts were crucial in allowing us to develop a first-class program in tune with our Mission of offering educational opportunities to populations historically underserved by higher education.
I encourage you to read the rest of The Word for more on the pharmacy graduation and other recent news and events at UIW. These include details on the expansion of Benson Stadium and a feature on Marcos Fragoso, who succeeded Dr. Pat Watkins as vice president for International Affairs in June when she retired after an impressive career spanning more than two decades at UIW.
The first graduates of the Feik School of Pharmacy illustrate something in which I firmly believe – that even during the most difficult of economic times, an investment in higher education will always yield a return. So please accept my thanks for your commitment to our community. It’s this support that allows us to continue fulfilling Incarnate Word’s goal of offering students the best possible educational opportunities within a context of faith.
Special blessings on you and your loved ones throughout the remainder of the summer.
Louis J. Agnese Jr., Ph.D.