WPPD reunion unites former graduates

It was the nation’s most successful nontraditional Pharm.D. program, and on Aug. 24, alumni and friends of the University of Florida College of Pharmacy’s Working Professional Doctor of Pharmacy Program (WPPD) gathered for a virtual reunion. The nearly two-hour event featured many stories from the program’s 25 years of existence. From lectures on VHS tapes to the rigorous foundations course, the attendees shared many laughs and memories from their time associated with the WPPD program.WPPD reunion

Janet Schmittgen, PharmD., a 2019 graduate of the WPPD program and an instructional assistant professor in the UF College of Pharmacy, and Sven Normann, Pharm.D., ’81, the former director of the WPPD program, served as the event’s emcees. Many graduates spoke about the family atmosphere and comradery that existed among WPPD graduates. The friendships made in the program have survived years after graduation, and the connections to UF have remained strong.

“Wherever you are in the world, you always have a home at UF,” Schmittgen said. “All of us graduated at different times and in different eras, but we hold a special bond together.”

The WPPD program opened a pathway for nearly 3,000 pharmacists around the country and internationally to secure a Doctor of Pharmacy degree. The program allowed working pharmacists with a B.S. Pharmacy to obtain a Pharm.D. degree while working full-time. The Aug. 24 reunion attracted guests from as far away as Singapore and coincided with the UF College of Pharmacy’s centennial — a yearlong celebration recognizing major milestones in the 100-year history of the college.

Reflections from WPPD graduates and staff members

“Working in the WPPD Program was an amazing experience. I truly appreciate my wonderful colleagues who helped me grow as both a person and a professional!”- Dr. Greg Zuest

“I am totally grateful for Sven Norman, Diane Beck, Karen Whalen, Sue Markowsky, Michele Weizer, Greg Zuest, Tracey Cooper, all of the facilitators that I became friends with, and for all the WPPD staff who worked tirelessly to create an amazing program that has created a lasting legacy.” – Dr. Karen Riley, 2002 WPPD graduate

“The WPPD program was well designed to provide a quality education while maintaining a balance between school, work and personal life. It was a great learning experience to build upon my BS Pharmacy from UF.” – Dr. Ed Hamilton 2000, past President of APhAAPhA Foundation

“The WPPD program opened doors for me in the clinical arena that were previously closed to me. It changed the focus of my career. I am forever grateful for the program.” – Dr. Susan Duquaine 2005, Dallas Site Facilitator, Management, Infectious Disease

WPPD photos from the collection of Dr. Diane Beck

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