June 9, 2020
Dear UH College of Pharmacy family,
Today, as Houstonian George Floyd is laid to rest, our entire nation is in a state of unrest as we wrestle with feelings of anguish, disgust and horror at his unjust and tragic death along with so many before him. Yet, we must also view today as the start of a new era of restoration, opportunity and hope for healing and togetherness as we commit to confronting the evils of racism and inequality in all of its overt and subtle forms.
As pointed out by the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy and other major pharmacy professional organizations in their joint statement and pledge last week, our college is never more committed to upholding the Oath of the Pharmacist, which states “I will consider the welfare of humanity and relief of suffering my primary concerns.”
As your dean, I am immensely proud of the respect and commitment of our students, alumni, faculty and staff toward each other and the communities we serve. Our college has much to be proud of, from the nearly three-decades-old annual International Day to learn about and celebrate our cultural heritages and our education and patient care outreach in Mr. Floyd’s native Third Ward and beyond to our research initiatives to address health disparities and target disease states that disproportionately plague communities of color, such as diabetes, chronic kidney disease, hypertension and certain types of cancer. However, today of all days is not the time for self-congratulation, but reflection and soul-searching on what more we can do to lift up our fellow mankind.
As we continue to advocate for our profession, we must also renew our commitment to and advocacy for the “welfare of humanity and relief of suffering” at every opportunity. The very definition of being an advocate is “to speak or write in support or defense of a person, cause, etc.” We must not only serve and speak up for the patients in our communities, but the entirety of the community as mentors in our primary schools, as volunteers in service organizations, and as defenders of the marginalized and maligned in our profession and our neighborhoods by forcing ourselves to fully recognize the ugly face of prejudice and injustice that unfortunately still exists around us.
As we send our condolences to the Floyd family, our Cougar family and pharmacy profession stands with those who seek redress of the societal, physical and mental ills that have led our nation to this critical crossroad by fulfilling our oath as pharmacists and duty as Americans to uphold the words of our Founding Fathers: “All men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
— Dean F. Lamar Pritchard