This spring, the School is launching an innovative fundraising campaign to increase admissions scholarships for the best and brightest future pharmacists
By Katie Gerhards
Starting each October, hopeful future pharmacists diligently check their mailbox waiting to find their golden ticket: their admissions offer for their top-choice school. Receiving this offer is in itself a milestone and an achievement. But now these students must decide if their top-choice school also makes the most financial sense. Is tuition affordable? What about housing? Is tuition assistance available?
This spring, the University of Wisconsin–Madison School of Pharmacy — one of the 10 top pharmacy schools in the nation — is launching a first-of-its-kind campaign to increase student support to help prospective students answer those questions with a resounding “yes.”
“As an alum, the idea of making the dream of a top-tier pharmacy school affordable really resonates with me,” says Professor and Associate Dean of Advancement Dave Mott (BS ’88, MS ’92, PhD ’95), a three-time School of Pharmacy alum. “We want to make it affordable for future students to have the same opportunities that were foundational for my career.”
The upcoming campaign is targeting $7 million in student support, with a main goal of increasing admissions scholarships that will allow more high-quality student pharmacists to attend the School, regardless of their background.
“Through this campaign, we want to empower all high-performing students to achieve their dreams to come here and support our ongoing mission of excellence.”
“We all want this school to be the best it can be,” says Jeremy Altschafl, assistant dean of Recruitment, Admissions, and Outreach. “And it can’t be the best unless we continue to have the best and brightest come here. Unfortunately, tuition and cost of living expenses can sometimes make attending unattainable. Through this campaign, we want to empower all high-performing students to achieve their dreams to come here and support our ongoing mission of excellence.”
Recruiting the best
As the nation sees a steady decline in the number of pharmacy school applicants — down 35 percent over the past 10 years, while the number of pharmacy schools has increased 25 percent — the Admissions team at the School of Pharmacy is keeping a close eye on local trends. Applications to the School remain strong, but the cost of attendance can be a barrier to many top students.
“We remain one of the top schools of pharmacy, and potential pharmacy students want to come here, but we’re finding that students who want to come to Madison are declining our offer and going to their second- or third-choice school because they can’t afford to come here,” says Julie Jensen, the School’s director of development.
For example, some applicants might aim to keep costs down by living with family and attending a pharmacy school closer to their hometown. Others might choose whichever school can offer the greatest financial incentives.
“Through this campaign, we may be able to substantially alter the overall cost of attendance to make our program more affordable,” says Altschafl. “We don’t want to give these ambitious, highly qualified future pharmacists any reason to decline our admissions offer for one of the best pharmacy schools in the country. We know they’ll thrive here.”
Importantly, new admissions scholarships will also help the School make progress on one of its key strategic goals: increasing the portion of historically underrepresented students. Some of the funds being raised through the campaign will be allocated toward lowering the financial barriers for underrepresented students.
“They’re great applicants and they’ll be great PharmD students,” says Altschafl. “They’re going to do fantastic things once they graduate and be the alumni that make us proud.”
For the 2022-23 academic year, the Admissions Committee awarded a total of $103,000 in donor-funded scholarships to 16 students to reduce the financial burden of attending the UW–Madison School of Pharmacy. The goal of the upcoming campaign is to increase support for incoming students.
“We’re proud and grateful for the amount of financial support from alumni and donors our student pharmacists are benefiting from today,” says Mott. “And we’re excited to see what kind of impact this campaign will make on our future PharmD enrollees while preserving the quality of our PharmD program that has kept us at the top for nearly 140 years.”
“We’re excited to see what kind of impact this campaign will make on our future PharmD enrollees while preserving the quality of our PharmD program that has kept us at the top for nearly 140 years.”
Some scholarships, particularly those currently being offered at the time of admission, are coming from funds that could otherwise be supporting the School. Through the campaign, Altschafl and Jensen aim to not only increase the portion of incoming PharmD students receiving scholarships — lowering financial barriers and helping students pursue their dream career at their dream school — but also to return that funding to the School’s operational budget for continued advancements in pharmacy education and research.
“The School of Pharmacy is historically a center of innovation, and to continue our tradition of excellence, we need to attract the best and brightest students,” says School of Pharmacy Dean Steve Swanson. “Fortunately, we know that our alumni want to help the next generation rise up, and this campaign enables that.”