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University of Utah’s College of Pharmacy Receives $20 Million Donation from the ALSAM Foundation

Jan. 8, 2007 — The University of Utah’s College of Pharmacy has received a $20 million donation from The ALSAM Foundation to assist with the design and construction of a new research and education building.

“Today, we take special pride in moving forward with a new research building that will honor L.S. “Sam” Skaggs for his remarkable vision and extraordinary generosity,” said John W. Mauger, Ph.D., professor and dean of the College of Pharmacy. “This new building will foster interdisciplinary research that makes a real and lasting difference in the lives of people worldwide suffering from diseases such as cancer, epilepsy, diabetes, pain, and other genetically related diseases.”

The new facility will be located adjacent to-and connected to-the current pharmacy building, which opened in 1965 and is named in honor of L.S. Skaggs, Sr. who died in 1950. The new building will be named in recognition of his son, L.S. “Sam” Skaggs.

“Over forty years ago, L.S. Skaggs, provided the funding to make possible the construction of the L.S. Skaggs Hall, which was named after his father,” said Ronny L. Cutshall, president of The ALSAM Foundation. “Today, the University of Utah’s College of Pharmacy is embarking on a capital campaign to raise the funds to design and construct a new state-of-the-art research and education building. The ALSAM Foundation and the Skaggs family are pleased to continue the partnership and association with the college by providing the lead gift. We are confident that with this facility the college will be able to continue, and even surpass, its contribution to research and education in the pharmaceutical field and to the health of the people in Utah, America, and the world.”

University of Utah President Michael K. Young noted, “It is a fitting tribute that these two pharmacy buildings will be named in honor of father and son, and will be connected to each other. The support of the Skaggs family has been vitally important in establishing and sustaining the college as one of the very top-ranked pharmacy programs in the nation,” said Young.

The college is nationally recognized for training pharmacy professionals and for research into new medications and drug delivery systems. It’s currently ranked second among all colleges of pharmacy by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for peer-reviewed research, and has been ranked among the top four pharmacy colleges in the country since 1975. Its doctorate of pharmacy program was ranked 14th in 2006 by U.S. News and World Report.

The college has earned its reputation by training outstanding pharmacists, and through prolific research that has lead to new medications and advances in drug delivery methods and treatments, according to A. Lorris Betz, M.D. Ph.D., University of Utah senior vice president for health sciences.

“Since its establishment in 1947, the College of Pharmacy has brought together faculty who are not only talented teachers, but also practical scientists able to translate research into care. Under the leadership of some remarkable deans, this college has created a culture of collaboration that is unmatched in the field of pharmacy,” said Betz.

A number of Utah-based pharmaceutical and biomedical device companies trace their origins back to the college and its faculty, including Sentrx Surgical, Theratec, Macromed, and Echelon Biosciences. Many graduates of the college are also leaders at companies and universities worldwide.

Mauger points to epilepsy as an example of how the college has impacted human disease. He says each of the nine new antiepileptic drugs that have come to market in the past 30 years have passed through the college’s NIH-sponsored Anticonvulsant Drug Development Program. The program has screened more than 30,000 epilepsy medications since it was established by the late Ewart A. Swinyard, a former dean and researcher.

Mauger says the need for a new building is similar to what the college faced in 1965 when it moved into the current facility. “In 1964, the Skaggs family made a generous donation that allowed us to build our current college, and move out of the top floor of what had been the former women’s gymnasium building,” he said. “Today, the continued generosity of the Skaggs family gives us the opportunity to bring together faculty who have been relocated across campus because of lack of space at the college. We’re as excited today as our predecessors were 43 years ago.”

The college plans to raise an additional $50 million for its new building, with most of the funding coming from private donations. “Our hope is to begin construction sometime in 2009 with the project being complete by 2011. We are planning a very aggressive fund-raising campaign and this gift from the ALSAM Foundation gets us started on the right foot,” said Mauger.

For more information about the college, visit


Background on the The ALSAM Foundation and Skaggs Family

The ALSAM Foundation is named in honor of L.S. “Sam” and Aline Skaggs. The Foundation supports a variety of causes and organizations, and is committed to improving the lives of people around the world. In recent years, the Foundation has made significant donations to the University of Utah, The Scripps Research Institute, numerous colleges of pharmacy across the Western United States, and many other organizations.

Mr. Skaggs married the former Aline Wilmot in 1949, after serving four years in the U.S. Army Chemical Warfare Service in Europe during World War II. The couple has four adult children.

Often credited as the father of the modern super drug-store chain, Mr. Skaggs took over his family’s grocery store business after his father’s death in 1950. Mr. Skaggs grew the business from a regional industry leader into American Stores, which at one time was the third largest food and drug chain in the country.