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On the heels of his recent $9 million gift to UNC’s School of Pharmacy, Fred Eshelman ’72 has contributed another $1 million to support the school’s Educational Renaissance initiatives, which attracted $1 million in matching funds from the Pharmacy Network Foundation.
Eshelman is CEO and founder of Wilmington-based PPD Inc., a leading global contract research organization providing discovery, development and post-approval services as well as compound partnering programs to the biopharmaceutical industry.
The Educational Renaissance is the school’s plan to address the needs of the next generation of students who are expected to learn very differently from the students of the past, said Dean Bob Blouin.
“We’re on the brink of falling into a generation gap between educators and learners,” Blouin said. “Children who grew up in the 1990s have never known life without the World Wide Web and the instant access to information that it affords. They are going to thrive in an educational environment that mirrors that access.”
Gary Pollack, the school’s executive associate dean, is leading the group working to develop and implement the principles and technology behind the school’s educational initiatives. Pollack has been teaching at the school for more than 20 years and is the recipient of a number of its teaching awards.
“The students we will be teaching in the very near future are used to finding information on their own,” Pollack said. “They find it more interesting and stimulating to seek out the information rather than wait for someone to give it to them. They are increasingly intolerant of a traditional lecture.”
The Educational Renaissance will move the knowledge transfer aspect of education — such as a traditional lecture — out of the classroom and put it online. Students would come to class fully prepared to learn to apply that knowledge, which is the key to developing the critical thinking skills so important to a pharmacist, Pollack said.
In January, Eshelman pledged $9 million to support cancer research at the School of Pharmacy. He made a $20 million gift to the school in 2003. Eshelman said he made his most recent gift to help the school reach its potential.
“The UNC School of Pharmacy has the opportunity to be the leading pharmacy school in the nation,” Eshelman said. “The ideas behind the Educational Renaissance promise to revolutionize pharmacy education, and I felt it was important for the school to be able to move quickly to implement them.”
The gift was matched by the Pharmacy Network Foundation, which works to promote and enhance pharmacy service to improve public health and welfare.
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