MCPHS All-Class Reunion ballroom
University News | 12/18/2023

All in a Year’s Work: 2023 was a Year of Celebration, Community, and Collaboration

By Dana Barbuto

MCPHS All-Class Reunion ballroom

MCPHS enjoyed a remarkable year honoring the University’s past while strengthening its present impact on the life sciences industry.

2023 was a milestone year for Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (MCPHS), marked by the University's Bicentennial celebrations, student successes, and academic prestige. In classrooms and laboratories across our campuses in Boston, Worcester, Manchester, and Online, students, faculty, and alumni engaged in key collaborations and were honored for their accomplishments.

As we enter 2024, here are a few highlights the MCPHS Community has achieved and experienced this past year.

Alumni stand in front of the MCPHS 200 lights.
Thousands of alumni returned to Boston for a weekend of camaraderie, connection, and community in October for the All Class Reunion & Bicentennial Celebration.

Bicentennial Bash

Celebratory vibes spread throughout the year to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the founding of MCPHS, which opened in 1823. An interactive Bicentennial experience was launched on the University's website last spring to spotlight our Founders' bold ambition and our Futurists' innovative vision and to share two centuries of MCPHS stories and history.

On our social media channels, #MCPHS200 was ubiquitous with quizzes, archival photos, and content honoring historical figures such as Agnes Wilbur, the first woman to receive a degree from MCPHS. The Bicentennial also inspired a new podcast, "The Secret to Living to 200," which focuses on longevity and well-being. The first episode debuted in March, and as the year ends, 10 additional episodes showcase the University's thought leaders, tackling subjects from dental hygiene to acupuncture to healthcare inequities. In October, a well-attended live presentation of the Bicentennial podcast took over Reed Hall for a special conversation on how the social determinants of health impact our ability to live longer, healthier lives.

Bicentenary festivities continued into the fall when President Richard J. Lessard and Provost Caroline Zeind welcomed 3,000 alums, faculty, and guests to Boston for the All-Class Reunion & Bicentennial Celebration. The reunion, held Saturday, Oct. 28, was the biggest post-graduate gathering in the University's history. The University Advancement team organized the celebration across two hotels to accommodate the unprecedented response to the event. On hand were: 1952 pharmacy graduate David Epstein, 92, the oldest alum at the reunion; the four Yered brothers, all pharmacy graduates between 1970 and 1990; and Patrick Contrado, who hasn't missed a reunion since he graduated in 1977.

As the year ended, the University officially celebrated its 200th birthday with Founders Day parties on all three campuses. Faculty, staff, and students donned their MCPHS gear, left messages in a digital time capsule, snapped selfies with Red, and indulged in cupcakes to commemorate the December 8 founding.

People posing with hard hats and sledgehammers
MCPHS was recognized as a key partner and leader in the state’s life sciences ecosystem during a groundbreaking ceremony for the training center for Bioversity, a workforce development initiative. 

A Leader in Life Sciences

MCPHS made great strides this year to fortify its reputation as an educational leader in advancing life sciences education and preparing students for the rapidly expanding industry. The University recently added a fifth Center for Excellence amid unprecedented demand for biotech, biopharma, and biomanufacturing workers. The Center for Life Sciences helps students develop skills to join the growing industry.

In July, MCPHS was recognized as a critical partner and leader in the state's life sciences ecosystem during a groundbreaking ceremony for a workforce training center at Southline Boston in Dorchester. The event signaled the next step in the University's collaboration with Massachusetts Biotechnology Council (MassBio) to bring Bioversity, a workforce development initiative, to life. The partnership will unlock opportunities for thousands of people while supporting the regional economy.

More good news hit this fall when MCPHS received its second grant in two years from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center (MLSC) for workforce development, further strengthening the University's impact on the ever-expanding sector. Next year begins with great promise as Bioversity launches in January with its first 20 trainees working from a curriculum developed by the School of Professional Studies.

Members of the Korean Evaluation Institute of Industrial Technology and MCPHS Leadership
MCPHS established a partnership with the Korean Evaluation Institute of Industrial Technology last April.

A Global Community

Through international partnerships and student and faculty service trips, the global footprint of the MCPHS Community continued to expand this year.

In April, the University partnered with the Korean Evaluation Institute of Industrial Technology (KEIT), a government-affiliated organization in South Korea, to focus on research and development to improve South Korea’s industrial sector. The partnership is part of a broader campaign that connects American companies and universities to Korean research efforts, strengthening the relationship between the two countries and establishing shared goals for achieving advancements in science. In October, MCPHS hosted a group of South Korean biotechnology leaders for the first in-person professional education workshop for executives trying to establish a base in Boston’s biotech cluster. The two-day accelerated workshop covered innovation, discovery, and entrepreneurship.

In May, MCPHS, joined forces with the oldest pharmacy school in France, Paris Cité University. Students from MCPHS learned about the French healthcare system and pursued research topics of mutual interest, such as drug efficacy and off-label medicines.

Further showcasing the University as a global healthcare leader, The Center for International Studies resumed programs abroad, starting with a service-learning trip to Morocco. A pair of nursing faculty members also traveled to Ecuador with Global Smile Foundation to help children with cleft conditions and a chemistry professor coached Team USA to a pair of gold medals at the 55th International Chemistry Olympiad (IChO) in Switzerland in July.

In October, students enrolled in the Global Comparative Health course in the School of Healthcare Business and Technology traveled to London to visit hospitals and learn about value-based and government-funded healthcare to compare it with the system in the U.S.

MCPHS Diversity Wall
The “Cardinals Across the World” diversity mural was unveiled this spring. By wintertime, students filled the map with pins marking their more than 90 home countries.

Prioritizing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

This year, as part of its Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Strategic Priority, MCPHS undertook an Inclusive Climate Assessment (ICA) —the first survey of its kind at the University. The survey collected baseline data to help establish and maintain a diverse, inclusive, and equitable institution. With a deep concern for the campus climate, students, faculty, staff, and other members of the Community participated in the survey, which identified the University’s strengths, such as inclusive leadership and areas for growth, including interpersonal inclusion. The results of the study are available on the MCPHS website.

Occupational therapy students in Manchester also did their part to promote DEI efforts by establishing a lending library curated exclusively with books about diversity and inclusion. The books are available in the main Manchester campus library. And on the Boston campus, the “Cardinals Across the World” diversity mural was unveiled this spring. By wintertime, students filled the map with pins marking their more than 90 home countries. Students in Worcester turned out in October to hear Dr. Matilde ‘Mattie’ Castiel, the city’s health commissioner, discuss healthcare inequities for the Latino community and other communities of color. Later that month, physician assistant students in Boston learned how to practice free of bias at an event titled “Addressing Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Anti-Racism in Healthcare.”

Other 2023 Highlights

STILL US, ONLY BETTER: MCPHS got a new look online in the early months of 2023. After two years of planning, the redesigned website went live on March 1. The upgraded site provides institutional news and features, updates on Community events, stories about students, and personalized pages for schools, programs, admissions, and alumni.

LEARN, SHARE, NETWORK: MCPHS hosted the annual Reed Conference for Pharmacy in March at Gillette Stadium. This year’s conference marked the first in-person gathering since the start of the pandemic. Founded in 1941, the annual conference honors Howard L. Reed for his dedication and service to MCPHS. The next conference is on March 7, 2024.

MEETING A GROWING NEED: In March, MCPHS became the first university or college system with its own PET/CT scanner. The equipment—a generous donation from Shields Health—is helping the University attract and educate Nuclear Medicine Technology students as demand for licensed and registered professionals in this field continues to grow.

EXCELLENCE IN E-LEARNING: MCPHS won two awards for excellence in online education this spring. The School of Professional Studies (SPS) received a 2023 Catalyst Award in the Teaching & Learning category for its “innovative ways to advance learning.” The University Professional and Continuing Education Association (UPCEA), an online and professional continuing education leader, also honored SPS.

FIRST GRADUATES: Spring Commencement marked another milestone for MCPHS as the University awarded its first Bachelor of Arts degrees to three students who completed the Health Humanities program.

ECONOMIC IMPACT: An annual report released in June and commissioned by the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities in Massachusetts, of which MCPHS is a member, revealed the University adds $813 million to the Massachusetts economy and supports more than 4,000 jobs across the region in healthcare professions and the rapidly growing life sciences industry.

WINTER GRADUATES: Four hundred students were urged to take risks and trust their training when the University held its winter Commencement exercises at the DCU Center in Worcester in December. Students from the Forsyth School of Dental Hygiene, School of Medical Imaging and Therapeutics, School of Nursing, and School of Physician Assistant Studies—Manchester/Worcester earned their degrees.

IT PAYS TO STUDY: Noting the earning power of its graduates, 24/7 Wall St. ranked MCPHS 20th in the nation out of 50 institutions in its latest upward mobility report, released in December.