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Planting Seeds of Service at the Health Science Center and Beyond

Dick Gourley

Dick Gourley and his wife, Greta, a retired UT associate professor of pharmacy, have established a scholarship endowment and a bequest to support the College of Pharmacy. The couple, pictured with their daughter, Kristin believes that an "education is the lifeline" of society. "If you do not share your treasure, it is hard to ask someone else to," Dick says.

By Chandra Harris-McCray

As a kid at the neighborhood drugstore, Dick Gourley found himself in the center of conversations over get-well antidotes that were filled with just as much goodness as the homemade milkshakes he sipped.

"Pharmacists were helping people-neighborhoods," he says of the close-knit Paducah, Ky., community he grew up in. "I would get on my bike after school and go to the soda fountain drugstore. It is where I wanted to be. I liked it."

That like did not just grow into an occupation, but a way of life for the former dean of the College of Pharmacy at the UT Health Science Center, who is serving as the interim president of the UT Research Foundation.

"From that moment on, all I knew was that I wanted to help people," says Dick, who received his pre-pharmacy education from UT Knoxville and bachelor's and doctor of pharmacy degrees from the UT Health Science Center. He went on to join the faculty of Mercer University Southern School of Pharmacy and the University of Nebraska College of Pharmacy.

"During my senior year in high school, I attended a pre-pharmacy program and became hooked," he says. "And, for the past 40 years, I have dedicated my life to helping others expand the profession."

For the last 22 years, his visionary leadership at his alma mater has transformed the college into one of the nation's top 20 schools of pharmacy. Better than 98 percent of pharmacy graduates pass the national boards on their first attempt, a record for the past 15 years that few others have matched, and they have scored 11 percentage points higher than the national average on board exams. Along with growing in reputation as a recognized leader in pharmacy education, practice and research, the college maintains some 300 educational sites across the state and offers pharmacy rotations in 13 countries.

The icing on Dick's career was seeing a dream realized with the completion of the $65 million-plus, 183,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art education and research facility.

The College of Pharmacy building is the second building to be completed on the UT-Baptist Research Park, a project that will add more than 1.4 million square feet of laboratory, research, education and business space in the heart of the Memphis Medical Center near downtown. The building consolidates UT College of Pharmacy faculty and staff who were previously housed in six different buildings on the sprawling urban campus.

"We already have phenomenal researchers in the college working to find new medications to combat today's illnesses," Dick says. "However, these first-rate facilities will enable us to expand that important research, offer new and unique educational programs, and enhance our practice of pharmacy throughout the region. We will be able meet the ever-changing needs of pharmacy."

The sixth floor of the new building encompasses the UT Plough Center for Sterile Drug Delivery Systems.

In March 2010, the Plough Foundation awarded a $4.5 million grant to the UTHSC College of Pharmacy to establish the more than 5,800-square-foot center. The UT Plough Center serves as an educational hub for teaching and training pharmacists, pharmaceutical scientists, and highly skilled employees for the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry. The center also provides an environment for the conceptualization of unique drug products to solve specialized problems, including the development and manufacture of "small molecule" drug products to treat cancers, cardiovascular diseases, infectious diseases and other life-threatening conditions. It will enable scientists to increase the number of clinical trials performed locally, which will be a major positive step toward improved health care in the region.

"Moving into a new facility like this really changes the heartbeat of your college," UT President Joe DiPietro says. "It's a special moment in your history and it signifies great things for the future."

A future Dick and his wife, Greta, a retired UT associate professor of pharmacy, have ensured with a scholarship endowment and a bequest to support the College of Pharmacy.

"I had scholarships throughout my pharmacy education," he says. "I couldn't have made it without them.

"They made a difference in my life, so now it was time to be the one making the difference."

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