UW News

October 9, 2008

Faculty-staff-retiree gifts to the University show depths of connection

News and Information

Campaign UW officially concluded several months ago, but the Faculty-Staff-Retiree Campaign for Students is still raising money through the end of the year. And some of the gifts show the depths of the connections within the UW community.

The generosity of Joy Plein, professor of pharmacy, and her late husband, Elmer Plein, led to the creation of an endowed fund that has helped students achieve academic goals and prepare themselves for leadership in health care.

Plein, who has been on the faculty since 1966, created the Nanci Murphy and Karan Dawson Endowed Fund, for the use of students in the school’s Center for Leadership and Professional Excellence. Among the Center’s goals are to help students provide health services and medical programs in underserved areas and provide support for students presenting research at national meetings.

This year, the fund has provided support for two students. Jennifer Knutson is presenting a poster at the prestigious American College of Clinical Pharmacy’s annual meeting concerning research she conducted with her mentor, Jeannine McCune, associate professor of pharmacy, on the health implications for some patients in how their body breaks down a particular immunosuppressant drug.

Courtney McDermott, the other recipient, recently returned from Costa Rica and Panama, where she worked with local health care teams as both a student and teacher, instructing other students in how to read prescriptions, calculate dosing and counsel patients in rural areas of both countries. “I left there with a profound feeling that I helped, and I gained a great appreciation for the ability of health care to improve the lives of others,” she said.

Plein chose to name the endowed fund after two of her colleagues, whom she described as “much beloved faculty.” Murphy, who began her academic career in 1989, is associate dean and director of academic and student programs, as well as a lecturer in the Department of Pharmacy and a core faculty member in the Geriatric Pharmacy Program. She initiated the school’s Center for Pharmacy Leadership and Professional Excellence.

Dawson, a faculty member since 1978, is a senior lecturer and director of continuous professional development. She played an important role in the development of the Northwest Geriatric Education Center’s programs in education for health professionals. Within the school, she has been an advocate for service learning, problem-based learning and the use of technology in education.

“The Center for Leadership and Professional Excellence is only one example of the many programs that have benefited from Joy Plein’s generosity,” Murphy says.

Andrea MacPherson, who recently graduated with a degree in Scandinavian Studies and Swedish, benefited from an endowment created by one of her professors, Ann-Charlotte Gavel Adams, enabling her to travel and pursue research that could lead to a lifelong career that would be a continuation of her goals of service to the community.

The endowment was created by Gavel Adams to honor her parents and to assist students studying Swedish language and culture.

MacPherson started at the UW in autumn 2003, but she had to withdraw for a year in 2005 when she was diagnosed with cancer. She returned full time the following year and received an award from the Ann-Marie and Gunnar Gavel Endowment for Swedish Studies, which enabled her to travel to Link√∂ping, where she worked on her senior thesis, a comparison of the programs and assistance available to cancer survivors in the United States with those in Sweden, as well as taking courses in business and leadership. “Learning about this newly developed field on an international level really helped expand my horizons and allowed me to make many more contacts in the cancer field, both from Sweden as well as other European nations,” she said.

MacPherson is currently enrolled in the UW Extension program in non-profit management, with the long-term goal of starting a new foundation that will offer assistance with the challenges that are specific to young adult cancer survivors.

An endowed fellowship in the School of Public Health and Community Medicine, launched with pledges from six major donors, has now attracted about $110,000 from more than 300 supporters, with pledges ranging from $10 to $10,000.

David Shoultz, a 1997 graduate who is now an affiliate faculty member and vice president for business development with Biomedical Systems, wanted to find a way of connecting to the school that was both personal and professional. He decided on an endowed fellowship. “We know that potential UW graduate students are often lured to other schools with deeper endowment pockets,” he said. “This is especially true for underrepresented minorities.” He wanted to start a process that inspired others to give, regardless of their means.

He worked with the personnel in the school, especially Dean Pat Wahl, on devising ways for the school to attract donors of even modest means to participate in the endowment. Shoultz and five other donors provided seed funds.

“People needed permission to give in amounts that aren’t huge,” he said. “It turned out that many among the faculty and alumni were passionate about giving to create a fellowship, and with the dean’s leadership, we were able to capitalize on that passion. Giving for the benefit of students is something very tangible; all those who work in the school can see the results in the halls and offices where they work. It’s why they’re there in the first place.”

Gifts of between $5,000 and $10,000 to the Faculty-Staff-Retiree Fund for Students are matched dollar for dollar by the university. Pledges of at least $5,000 can be paid in installments over five years and still be eligible for the match. For more information, visit the Faculty-Staff-Retiree Campaign Web site or contact Kim Johnson-Bogart, kbogart@u.washington.edu, 206-221-4337.