Mike and Samantha Nuckols

Mike and Samantha Nuckols will include the VCU School of Pharmacy in their estate plans to give future pharmacy leaders the resources they need to fulfill their dreams. Photo: Penelope Carrington, MCV Foundation

Pharmacy Alum Invests in Profession’s Future

Mike Nuckols opened the display cabinet inside the hallway of his Powhatan County home, revealing a healthy mortar and pestle collection that varied in size and detail.

Each piece had been thoughtfully acquired over the years, tangible reminders of the earlier days in his pharmacy career when he and others toiled over those instruments to crush pills and create medicines. 

Mike shared that over his nearly 30-year career as a hospital pharmacist and later, on the research side of the pharmaceutical industry, what made him most proud was the impact he and his colleagues had on communities locally and around the world. His was a career that he chose after serving in the U.S. Navy, and one that blessed him and his wife, Samantha, with a comfortable life.

Now, they are inspired to help others achieve what they did through planned giving to the VCU School of Pharmacy.

“We’ve heard stories of students who want to go to pharmacy school, but they can’t afford it,” Samantha said. “We wanted to help students afford their dream of entering the profession and felt it was also important to ensure future leaders of the School of Pharmacy have the appropriate resources to support them.”

Mike and Samantha made the decision to include the School of Pharmacy in their estate plans through a bequest that will support student scholarships and the school’s greatest needs.

Retired since 2001, Mike was introduced to pharmacy while serving in the U.S. Navy. While he initially began his service as a hospital corpsman – influenced by his father, who was a doctor – he realized that sort of patient-intensive environment wasn’t for him. He then switched to pharmacy technician, which he enjoyed. 

After graduating from VCU’s pharmacy school in 1974, he worked at Johnston-Willis Hospital for nearly 15 years before moving to then A.H. Robins Co., a Richmond-based pharmaceutical company that changed hands several times in the last half century. Its successor companies were most recently acquired by Pfizer Inc. in 2009.

Mike said today’s pharmacy students spend six years in school —it was five when he was there — and are much more technologically sophisticated. Still, ultimately, the role has not changed: helping people and helping communities remain healthy and strong.

“People don’t realize how long it takes and how expensive it is to bring a new drug to market,” Mike said. Regarding the speed with which Pfizer introduced a vaccine for COVID-19, “I’m sure they were working around the clock when they saw the need,” he said.

Even though he was already retired by that time, he noted the pride he felt for the impact those efforts had on the world.

“They were able to bring something to the market quickly,” he said, “and it kept people out of the hospital and saved lives. That’s the sort of calling I want to support with our giving.”

If you are interested in making a planned gift to support the MCV Campus, please contact Ashley Sheets, director of planned giving for the MCV Campus, at sheetsa2@vcu.edu or 804-828-2227.