By William Hamilton
PBN Staff Writer
SOUTH KINGSTOWN – CVS Caremark Corp., whose chief executive is a University of Rhode Island graduate, is making a $2 million donation to the school’s College of Pharmacy, the largest single corporate gift to that program in its 52-year history.
URI, which announced the pledged donation this morning, said $1.1 million will help finance the new $75 million pharmacy building on the Kingston campus, and the remaining money will fund clinical pharmacy research.
The construction project, which is expected to break ground this fall in the northern portion of campus, is largely being paid for through a $65 million bond approved by voters in November 2006, with school officials planning to cover the remainder of the costs through donations.
When completed, the five-story, 148,000-square-foot building will be the largest academic structure on campus.
“I am very pleased by the confidence expressed by CVS Caremark Corp. in the students and faculty of the College of Pharmacy at URI, as shown by this pledge,” said URI President David M. Dooley. “The very productive and mutually beneficial relationship between URI and CVS Caremark Corp. exemplifies what can be accomplished by partnering for the benefit of human health. We are proud to be working with the CVS Caremark team.”
CVS Caremark CEO Thomas M. Ryan graduated from URI, and the on-campus 8,000-seat athletic center bears his name. He also chaired the search committee that selected Dooley as the school’s 11th president. Ryan was not mentioned in a URI press release about the donation, however.
“CVS Caremark is committed to educating and training outstanding future pharmacists,” said Larry Merlo, executive vice president of CVS Caremark and president of CVS/pharmacy. “We are thrilled to expand our partnership with URI, a school that has so many accomplished alums working as CVS Caremark pharmacists.”
URI said the donation will be considered part of the school’s ongoing $100 million Making a Difference campaign. It was not immediately clear how much has been raised in the effort.
“What is most impressive about this gift is the range of purposes within the college that will be impacted so significantly,” said Glen R. Kerkian, president of the URI Foundation, which oversees fundraising. “Prospective pharmacy students and parents alike should conclude that they are gaining access to a first-rate program here at the University of Rhode Island.”
In recognition of the gift from CVS Caremark, four separate areas of the new building will be given the following names: the CVS Caremark Pharmacy Teaching Wing, CVS Caremark Advanced Human Patient Simulator Center, CVS Caremark Professional Practice Laboratory and the CVS Caremark Multi-Purpose Teaching Laboratory.
Ronald P. Jordan, dean of the College of Pharmacy, said the simulation center will consolidate two existing centers at URI, one at the College of Pharmacy and the other at the College of Nursing.
“Both colleges will use the new facility in simulated heath care delivery training,” he explained. “Ultimately physicians will also be able to join in training on the equipment electronically from remote locations, as the center will cooperate with a similar center in Providence.”
The $900,000 portion of the gift earmarked for research will enhance studies in pharmacy practice and medication therapy management, according to URI.
Jordan said the nation is moving toward “precision medicine,” a new term that describes how very targeted medication technology will be applied to each individual patient based on many variables including their specific genetic profile.
He noted that in addition to educating the next generation of pharmacists in the precision medicine model, this part of the gift will help the college play a key role in evolving health care system policy through its leading research in epidemiology and “pharmacoeconomics” – the areas of research that help determine how best to apply new therapy by studying the costs and benefits of various options through population-based research.
The University of Rhode Island’s Making a Difference Campaign is a drive to raise $100 million to help URI provide student scholarships, enhance the campus experience, recruit and retain outstanding faculty, and fund cutting-edge academic and research initiatives. To learn more about the campaign, visit www.advance.uri.edu.
The URI Foundation, established in 1957, is an independent nonprofit group charged with managing URI’s fundraising and development activities and the university’s endowment. To learn more, visit www.URIFoundation.org.
Additional news and information from the University of Rhode Island are available at www.uri.edu/news.