Chris and Debbie Smith.EDWARDSVILLE – A member of the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville School of Pharmacy’s (SOP) pharmacy advisory board for 14 years, Chris Smith, of Springfield, has been an instrumental leader and advocate of the School. Smith has held various roles, including president and committee chair. His most recent role is that of an elite donor.

In December, he and his wife announced a gift of $104,250 to the SOP to establish the Chris and Debbie Smith Pharmacy Endowed Scholarship. This gift is the largest one-time individual gift that has been given to the SOP. All pharmacy students with demonstrated financial need are encouraged to apply, and priority will be given to underrepresented minority students.

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“Debbie and I were inspired to provide this scholarship because we wanted to create more opportunities for minority students to access the premier pharmacy school education at SIUE,” Chris Smith said.

“Opportunities for higher education do not just provide avenues to secure futures for those who learn, but a brighter, more inclusive, sustainable future for us all,” said Debra Nickelson Smith. “Educational opportunities provide incentives and strategies for aspiring to our highest possible expressions. Whenever there is learning, there is always the possibility to grow and evolve.”

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“Due to the long-standing existence of structural barriers inhibiting economic stability for underrepresented minority students, targeted scholarships are significantly impactful in creating equitable opportunities for the attainment of graduate education,” said Lakesha Butler, PharmD, clinical professor and director of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) for the SOP. “The top goal of the School’s DEI strategic plan is to enhance the recruitment and retention of underrepresented students, and the Chris and Debbie Smith Pharmacy Endowed Scholarship will graciously assist.”

At the Smith family’s request, the SIUE Foundation placed $100,000 into the SIUE Endowment so that the principle of the gift will grow, and interest gained will fund pharmacy student scholarships in perpetuity. The gift’s remaining $4,250 will allow the SOP to award its first scholarship recipient in fall 2022. Students may apply via SIUE’s Academic Works application.

“While serving with the pharmacy advisory board, Mr. Smith has always been a proponent of helping the School secure more scholarships that will assist students in fulfilling their dream to become a pharmacist,” said SOP Dean Mark Luer, PharmD. “We’re beyond grateful for this incredibly generous endowment. It not only demonstrates his level of commitment to the School and our students, but also his recognition of the importance of scholarship endowments.”

Today’s pharmacists improve patients’ lives through the medication and education they provide. The School of Pharmacy is dedicated to developing a community of caring pharmacists through a curriculum that is nationally recognized as a model for offering students a unique combination of classroom education, research, community service and patient care. Areas of excellence include a drug design and discovery core, pediatric practice, chronic pain research and practice, and diabetes research and practice.

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