Century Mortar Club shifts focus for the future

white coat ceremony group photoFor more than 50 years, the College of Pharmacy’s Century Mortar Club (CMC) has played a key role in advancing pharmaceutical education in the College of Pharmacy. Originally founded in 1968, the CMC and its members, who include college alumni, pharmacists, and friends of the college, have demonstrated tremendous commitment to supporting students and enhancing the student experience. While the CMC may be best known for its philanthropic efforts, which have ranged from providing vital funds to establish the Century Mortar Club Endowed Chair in Pharmaceutical Management & Economics, to raising money to renovate the computer lab, and to helping supply the first year white coats, the CMC's philanthropic role has never been an end in itself. Since its inception, the CMC has been focused on advancing the educational experience of tomorrow's healthcare leaders: pharmacy students.

This past year, the CMC Board, along with Dean Welage and college leadership, discussed the many challenges today's pharmacy students face: stress amidst a challenging academic program, anxiety about entering a shifting job market for a profession in transition, and a need for connection and support to navigate their next steps. As the CMC Board considered how best to meet the evolving needs of current and future students in light of the CMC's student-focus mission, the opportunity to change objectives became clear.

What the students need is the advice, mentoring, and wisdom and lessons of experienced practitioners in how to land that first job or that "dream" job, and how to balance personal and family life with the rigors of being a healthcare provider. All of us as successful pharmacists have something to offer."

 Fifty years ago, a group of pharmacists saw an unmet need of students and stepped forward. That same thing exists today, except the unmet need has changed,” said Bill Diers in a letter to CMC members earlier this fall. “What the students need is the advice, mentoring, and wisdom and lessons of experienced practitioners in how to land that first job or that "dream" job, and how to balance personal and family life with the rigors of being a healthcare provider. All of us as successful pharmacists have something to offer."   CMC will continue to support students by providing their whitecoats, and working in new ways to support students via networking, workshops, mentoring, etc. 

 Even though the change in focus is recent, members have already begun to engage through the newly formed MN PACC - Minnesota Promoting a Connected Community. The groups pair small groups of students with a teaching faculty leader and volunteer practitioners, with the goal of fostering closer connections and a layered mentoring model. “Our hope is that through the MN PACC groups, Affinity groups and other planned student support initiatives we’ll help students develop stronger connections and professional identity, enhance their wellbeing and create a mutual understanding of the contemporary PharmD student experience and thrive in their professional and personal life,” said Randall Seifert, associate dean for student and professional affairs. Members of the Century Mortar Club play a pivotal role as the volunteer practitioners who are participating.  

 If you would like to offer your time through these new activities please contact Peter Haeg at haegx002@umn.edu.