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Pharmacy dean promotes culture of alumni giving

January 10, 2016

With three degrees — a BSc(Pharm) from UBC, PharmD from State University of New York (SUNY) at Buffalo, and MBA from Memorial University of Newfoundland (MUN) — and 13 years’ experience as a university dean, Linda Hensman credits her success to the education she received. That’s why she has decided to give back to return the benefit of education to others.

Student awards Linda received at UBC encouraged her to continue achieving her best. Years later, as Dean of the School of Pharmacy at MUN, giving back in support of students resonated with her deeply.

She saw first-hand that operating budgets simply do not cover those activities that enhance student life. And with the contraction of companies in the profession, student awards have been the first cut. Without such opportunities, Linda feared that students would simply coast through their studies and then their careers — within a profession that is in need of leaders and leadership.

Linda has thus included the pharmacy schools at UBC and MUN in her estate plans in support of student leadership activities including student projects for the advancement or innovation of pharmacy practice, and leadership development activities such as student attendance at professional meetings or conferences.

She has also included medicine at UBC in her will to support research into diseases of the eye and particularly macular degeneration, in honour of her parents who supported her through her education and career. She remembers when her father, Philip, went blind at the age of 80. When visiting in May one year, she found the daily newspaper on the kitchen table as was the family tradition. By the time she visited again in August, the paper had moved to the den as her father had become legally blind and could no longer read it.

Linda recognizes that most of us have comfortable lives and have “enough”. With no children of her own, Linda considered the students at MUN her kids. She joined its School of Pharmacy in 1989, shortly after it was established in 1986, and taught each and every one of the school’s graduates until her retirement in December 2016. It has been a joy for her to see how they’ve done after graduating, and to know that many support their alma mater as alumni. Part of her job as dean was to help grow a culture of alumni giving, through class gifts and encouraging alumni to start giving back early and making a habit of doing so.

In 2014 she was on the organizing committee for her 40th anniversary reunion, in honour of the great time she had at UBC and the strong foundation it gave her. Her UBC Pharmacy Class of ‘74 helped establish the Lynn Trottier Memorial Geriatrics Prize in honour of their classmate and colleague when she passed away in 2006. Reunion fundraising was directed towards growing the endowment to increase the award value. Linda’s hope was that classmates would take the opportunity to reflect upon what made a difference in their lives and to consider giving back to pay it forward.