UCSF School of Pharmacy celebrates Commencement 2016

The UCSF School of Pharmacy held its 2016 commencement on May 5 at Louise Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco, conferring the doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) degree on each of the 115 members of the graduating class.

Dean B. Joseph Guglielmo, PharmD, addressed a gathering that included hundreds of graduates’ friends and family members, School faculty on stage, and specially invited guests. In his opening remarks, Dean Guglielmo praised the graduating class for their “passion for serving others, commitment to patients, and potential to shape the profession.”

Guglielmo called the graduates “a beautifully diverse class,” noting that more than 20 percent of them had been born in other countries, including Ethiopia, Iran, Indonesia, and the Philippines. He also noted that members of the class came to pharmacy from other careers—in law, forensic science, company-founding entrepreneurship, and even Army counter-intelligence.

Leading the procession of graduates as honorary marshal was 2016 Distinguished Alumnus of the Year David Adler, PharmD ’70, who was an award-winning School faculty member for decades. He established new models of care with pharmacy-centered chronic disease and medication management clinics, helped expand scope of practice as a past president of the California Society of Health-System Pharmacists, and notably led the 1980s humanitarian and educational effort that enabled pharmacist refugees from Vietnam to pass state board exams and reenter their profession. Adler is now a faculty member and associate dean of academic affairs at the UC San Diego Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.

McDowell receives Bowl of Hygeia

Ceremony highlights included the presentation of the Bowl of Hygeia Award, the School’s highest honor bestowed upon a graduating student. The award’s five nominees are chosen by their classmates as those who “best exemplify the qualities most desirable in a pharmacist.”

The 2016 recipient, selected by a second round of voting by faculty and students, is Leann McDowell, PharmD. She will be returning to her hometown of Bloomington, Minnesota to begin a managed care residency with HealthPartners.

McDowell was presented the award by Brian Komoto, PharmD ’81, president of the Pharmacy Alumni Association and CEO/co-founder of Komoto Healthcare.

Also called forward for special recognition as Bowl of Hygeia nominees were:

  • Michael De Guia, PharmD, who will now begin a pharmacy practice residency with Kaiser Permanente in Panorama City, California.
  • Thomas Lee, PharmD, who will undertake a PGY1 residency in managed care with OmedaRx in Portland, Oregon.
  • Kathyrn Salvadora, PharmD, will be starting a PGY1 residency in the UC San Diego Health System.
  • Erin St. Angelo, PharmD, will begin a PGY1 residency at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago.

Herfindal delivers address

This year’s commencement address speaker was Eric “Toby” Herfindal, PharmD ’65, MPH, faculty member emeritus and chair of the then-Division of Clinical Pharmacy from its founding in 1972 until 1993. Herfindal has since been an executive at several health care companies, including co-founder/CEO of National Oncology Alliance, Inc., now part of McKesson Corp.

Herfindal also participated in the profession-transforming 1960s Ninth Floor Pharmacy Project at UCSF Medical Center. The project essentially birthed modern clinical pharmacy practice, in which pharmacists work on hospital wards (and now in myriad clinics and private practices) alongside physicians and nurses, to address the safe and effective use of medications. This fall marks the 50th anniversary of the project’s rollout. In the ensuing years, Herfindal led a transformation of the School’s curriculum to prepare students for their expanded clinical roles and helped extend the clinical model globally via lectures, papers, and books such as Textbook of Therapeutics: Drug and Disease Management, now in its eighth edition.

In his address, Herfindal took the graduating class back to the days before such reforms, when pharmacists were not supposed to tell patients “the name of the drug that they’re taking or what it is normally used for.” He described a “perfect storm” of frustrated PharmD graduates unable to bring their drug expertise to bear on patient care and a health care system awakening to the perils of drug interactions and medication errors. UCSF became a laboratory, he recalled, for a crucial experiment to address those problems.

“Today, in Silicon Valley [terms]…we’d say that’s very disruptive what we did, we stirred it up,” he said, encouraging the graduating class to do the same in order to advance the pharmacy profession and improve patient care. “The profession is evolving, it isn’t done yet…. There’s another Ninth Floor Project out there and maybe 50 years from now you can come back here and tell everybody what it was like.”

Doctor of pharmacy degrees were officially conferred upon the Class of 2016 by executive vice chancellor and provost Daniel Lowenstein, MD. The newly minted pharmacists were given their olive, blue, and gold hoods by Guglielmo, assisted by Lowenstein, Komoto, Associate Dean of Student and Curricular Affairs Donald Kishi, PharmD ’68, and Vice Dean Sharon L. Youmans, PharmD ’85, MPH.

As they did at their White Coat ceremony four years before, the graduates affirmed the Oath of a Pharmacist, led by Adler, who welcomed them as professional colleagues and asked them, before beginning the oath: “Please stand and face your relatives and friends who symbolically represent your future patients.”

Youmans Komoto Guglielmo

(left to right) Vice Dean Sharon L. Youmans, PharmD ’85, MPH, Pharmacy Alumni Association president Brian Komoto, PharmD ’81, and Dean B. Joseph Guglielmo, PharmD arrive at Davies Symphony Hall.

Commencement 2016 at Davies Symphony Hall

Dean Guglielmo addresses the graduates and audience.


Graduates Michael De Guia and Ronnie Delmonte serenaded the audience.

bowl of hygeia nominees

Bowl of Hygeia nominees (left to right) Thomas Lee, Erin St. Angelo, winner Leann McDowell, Michael De Guia, Kathyrn Salvadora

Guglielmo with Kent

Dean Guglielmo places the ceremonial hood on Kimilia Kent, PharmD, a newly minted PharmD graduate.


Eric “Toby” Herfindal, PharmD ’65, MPH, delivers the commencement address.


Honorary Marshall and 2016 Distinguished Alumnus David Adler, PharmD ’70.


Members of the 2016 graduating class applaud a commencement speaker.

faculty members

School faculty members (left to right) Esteban Burchard, MD, MPH; Deanna Kroetz, PhD; Tejal Desai, PhD; Susan Miller, PhD; Lani Wu, PhD; Steven Altschuler, PhD; Fran Aweeka, PharmD.


School of Pharmacy, Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences, Department of Clinical Pharmacy, PharmD Degree Program

About the School: The UCSF School of Pharmacy aims to solve the most pressing health care problems and strives to ensure that each patient receives the safest, most effective treatments. Our discoveries seed the development of novel therapies, and our researchers consistently lead the nation in NIH funding. The School’s doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) degree program, with its unique emphasis on scientific thinking, prepares students to be critical thinkers and leaders in their field.