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A night to celebrate Bob Day
Day, who lived and wrote the history of the School, takes the spotlight
By Grant Burningham / Fri Mar 5, 2021
The UCSF School of Pharmacy has existed for 148 years and for more than 60 of them, it has borne the imprint of the work of Robert L. Day, PharmD ’59. Bob, as most of his friends and colleagues know him, arrived at the School as a student and soon became a valued faculty member. His influence on the institution spanned decades of innovation, from the creation of the PharmD program, to the 9th Floor Project, to the growth of the School as a research powerhouse.
Day went on to work with the UCSF School of Pharmacy Alumni Association and became the School’s historian, collecting tidbits and preserving characters from the School’s rich past, details he shared in a recent town hall for the School on October 15.
On February 23, colleagues, former students and friends all gathered to celebrate the establishment of the Bob Day Student Center and the Bob Day Student Support Fund and to share a memory or two. While Day’s impact on the profession was on full display, what really took center stage was Day’s impact on the people he mentored and worked alongside.
Dean B. Joseph Guglielmo, PharmD, opened the evening by thanking former School dean Mary Anne Koda-Kimble, PharmD ’69; Gordon Dow, PharmD ’65; and former faculty member Toby Herfindal, PharmD ’65, who led the fundraising effort.
“Throughout his 54 year career as a pharmacist, faculty member, and Associate Dean, Bob Day has epitomized academic excellence and an unwillingness to accept the status quo,” Guglielmo said. “It is also my opinion that Bob Day has contributed more to past, present, and future PharmD students than any one student advisor, mentor, or advocate.”
The Bob Day Student Center is a physical space for PharmD students to connect, exchange ideas, and build community. The Bob Day Student Support Fund will honor Bob’s commitment to PharmD students by supporting student activities and priorities in perpetuity. The support fund is still accepting donations in Day’s honor.
After an introduction from Guglielmo, it was time for Day’s friends to speak. First up was Dow, who remembered not just Day’s instruction on drug compounding but his recipe for crème de menthe he shared after class.
“Bob’s been a pathfinder leading the way for countless UCSF alums over five decades,” Dow said. “He’s a pharmacist’s pharmacist.”
Koda-Kimble remembered how Day was an early advocate for the patient’s right to know about their care and the drugs they had been prescribed. “(Bob is) someone whose thinking has always been ahead of the current wisdom of how things should be,” Koda-Kimble said. “He leans hard against the prevailing winds with vigor, humor, and persistence.”
Two of Day’s former students, Brian Komoto, PharmD ’81, and Paul Lofholm, PharmD ’64, also spoke.
One of Day’s compounding classes came in handy early in Komoto’s career in community pharmacy, he recalled. Komoto was able to make a potent antibiotic more palatable and less dangerous for a young girl and in the process earned the respect of the prescribing doctor.
Lofholm remembered Day as “a practitioner, a teacher, entrepreneur, historian, author, and instructor” who was “willing to stick his neck out… to make sure that the profession of pharmacy would advance.”
Another example of Day’s mark on the profession and students was revealed by speaker Lorie Rice. Rice recalled how in the 1980s many Vietnam refugees arriving in California were unable to practice pharmacy as they had in Vietnam due to restrictive licensure problems. Day became their advocate and helped draft a bill to give them a path to licensure. He also secured an educational grant to assist them in passing the licensure examination. Over 200 Vietnamese health care professionals became UCSF students, and 90 percent went on to pass the California state boards.
When Day addressed the crowd he said he was overwhelmed by the support and recognition. “Where to begin? How about with gratitude? I cannot tell you how proud and elated I am that the student center and the fund for students will be established on the UCSF campus in my name,” Day said.
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.