Lyle & Sharon Bighley

Helping others further their education

Encouragement from an eighth grade teacher in a one-room rural schoolhouse was the reason Lyle Bighley went to high school, pharmacy school and, ultimately, graduate school.

“She suggested I become a pharmacist, and, at the time, I didn’t know what a pharmacist was. However, I trusted this teacher’s judgment and set a goal of going to college,” he said.

Prior to completing his final year at the College of Pharmacy, he was working as a student pharmacist at St. Paul’s Ancker Hospital where he met a student nurse from Hamline University named Sharon Olson. This chance encounter led to a marriage proposal and the beginning of a 50-plus year partnership.

“Both Lyle and I were the first in our families to attend college,” said Sharon. “We believe in the value of education to improve the quality of life.”

After receiving his bachelor of science degree in pharmacy, Lyle went on to earn his master’s degree in hospital pharmacy and a PhD in pharmaceutics from the University of Iowa.

Over the next 25 years, Lyle enjoyed a distinguished career in academia and the pharmaceutical industry. He retired in 1991 as senior vice president, R&D Planning and Administration for Marion Merrell Dow.

To make it easier for others to continue their education, the Bighleys established the Dr. Lyle D. and Sharon J. Bighley College of Pharmacy Fellowship Fund which supports graduate students at the college.

“When I was in graduate school, I received financial help from an American Foundation for Pharmaceutical Education Fellowship. This enabled me to complete my graduate studies. Sharon and I were grateful for that assistance and want to pass along that same sort of help to graduate students at my alma mater,” he said.

Their intent is to support students working under college faculty who are conducting research of demonstrated world-class excellence that is collaborative and interdisciplinary in nature. The first fellowship was awarded in spring 2010. In addition to monetary contributions, Lyle has supported the college as a member of the National Board of Advisors.