2018 Pharmacy White Coat Ceremony

Photo: Danny Tiet, VCU School of Pharmacy

Pharmacy’s White Coat Ceremony Inspires Support

When John Beckner, Pharmacy Class of ’78, delivered the keynote address at the VCU School of Pharmacy White Coat Ceremony, the experience had a lasting impact.

He was impressed by the meaningful ritual and the sense of community he felt among the students. He and his wife Pamela Beckner committed $25,000 to the Make It Real Campaign for VCU to help offset the cost of the white coats.

John and Pam Beckner
John and Pam Beckner’s support has made the school’s white coat ceremony more successful. While the ceremony did not exist when he was a student, he saw the importance of the annual tradition when he was a keynote speaker and was inspired to help ensure its future with a challenge grant from him and his wife. Photo courtesy of VCU School of Pharmacy

The white coat ceremony is a tradition for students entering health care fields such as medicine, dentistry and pharmacy. When first-year Pharm.D. students accept their white coats, they are committing to the highest standards of professional and ethical behavior in their field.

The ceremony didn’t exist when Beckner was a student on the MCV Campus, but he says that seeing its significance for students today inspired him and his wife to support this cause.

“The white coat ceremony is a rite of passage into the pharmacy profession,” Beckner said. “Pam and I wanted to support something that was especially meaningful to students. We felt that the white coat was the perfect fit for what we wanted to do.”

A trustee for the MCV Foundation, Beckner currently serves as senior director of strategic initiatives at the National Community Pharmacists Association. But he has spent most of his 42-year career in pharmacy management, most notably as director of pharmacy and health services at Ukrop’s Super Markets for 17 years.

Throughout his career, Beckner has hired many School of Pharmacy alumni, giving them their first professional positions in the field. Helping pharmacists get their start in the profession has always been important to him, he said. Through this gift, he will continue to help pharmacists at the onset of their careers.

“VCU students are truly a cut above,” Beckner said. “They are energetic and passionate, and they have a thirst for learning. That’s why my wife and I are thrilled to give back to the School of Pharmacy.”

If you would like to support students at the School of Pharmacy, contact Louie Correa, senior director of development, at 804-828-3016 or lacorrea@vcu.edu.

SOP White Coat
Students take their oaths during the VCU School of Pharmacy’s 2018 White Coat Ceremony. The pandemic has altered the tradition, but the next ceremony is scheduled for August 2021. Photo: Danny Tiet, VCU School of Pharmacy