Hi…I’m Dr. Bob!
If you’re interested in reading about the Crisafi Challenge, chances are you and I graduated from the same great College of Pharmacy. Yes—The University of Florida, College of Pharmacy. I love our COP and I credit it for the success I’ve had in my professional life. I’m sure you feel the same way. How fortunate are we to have had the privilege of graduating from a world-class College of Pharmacy, which today ranks #9 among all pharmacy colleges in the nation?
We can attest to being taught and trained by excellent professors in extraordinary facilities. It’s this great education that allows 100% of our graduates to find unlimited employment opportunities, almost immediately, after graduation. We, as pharmacists, have a variety of career choices. I chose to be an entrepreneur and bootstrap my own pharmaceutical manufacturing company, Lyne Laboratories, Inc. When we think about it, much of our successes in life can be attributed to our education at the University of Florida, and that’s an excellent reason to continue being connected to our alma mater.
I received my Ph.D. from the College of Pharmacy in 1956. For many years following graduation, I wanted to give back to my college, but was not in the financial position to do so. I had received scholarship assistance while attending graduate school, and I felt it would be a gratifying experience to play even a small role in helping others in need of financial assistance. Thinking back, my very first donation to the College of Pharmacy was $100 in the 1960s. Many years have passed since that first donation of $100—years that have been good for me and my family, and I’m so grateful that I remained connected to our alma mater during those years.
Despite making major gifts to the College of Pharmacy in the past ten years, I still felt I had not done enough for those deserving students who wanted to attend our excellent College of Pharmacy, but needed financial assistance to do so. Thus, the Crisafi Challenge was born—not in a competitive spirit, but in a supportive spirit. It made sense to me that when alumni saw other alumni offering support to a worthy cause, they would be moved to offer their own support.
Alumni pride and loyalty to their college is the key to a vibrant, successful donor program. Based on that premise, I felt strongly that a donor program like the Crisafi Challenge would be embraced and supported by my fellow alumni. I also believed most pharmacy alumni could relate personally to the hardships they faced while financing their own education. My hope was that, if these alums were now in a position to help others, they would respond positively to a donor program like the Crisafi Challenge.
The sole purpose of the Crisafi Challenge is to raise funds for needy, well qualified students who want to attend our excellent COP. 100% of the funds raised each year go toward that cause. When the COP has funds at its disposal, such as scholarship aid, it’s in a position to allocate those funds to attract and enroll intelligent and productive students to its student body. This, in turn, elevates the overall quality of the student body, which plays a significant role when colleges are being ranked for academic excellence. When the University of Florida College of Pharmacy’s ranking is elevated, which is destined to happen, everyone benefits: the college itself, the student body, and especially we as alumni.
For myself, knowing that my donations are serving a direct role in helping students who have selected UF as a first choice for their pharmacy education is an emotional and gratifying experience. I assume other alumni experience the same emotions, and that’s where I’m coming from when thinking about how other alums would embrace the Crisafi Challenge.
Alumni absolutely stepped up to the plate for the 1st Crisafi Challenge in 2015, and again stepped up, even higher in 2016.
For the inaugural Crisafi Challenge, I opted for a 10 day donor drive, and I challenged the alumni to match or exceed $10,000 during the 10 day period. The result of the inaugural Crisafi Challenge in 2015 was absolutely astonishing, not only to me, but to the entire Pharmacy College administration. It raised a total of over $32,500 in just 10 days, and Dean Julie Johnson was elated that enough funds were raised to award eight scholarships to students that would prove to be a credit to the COP. I was so happy and pleased at the 2015 results, that I agreed to donate $20,000 for the 2016 challenge. The 2016 Crisafi Challenge, which maintained the same 10-day challenge period, was again a phenomenal success, despite losing three of the ten days to hurricane Matthew. Our faithful and generous friends, not only matched the $20,000, but donated a sum of $35,000 for a total of more than $55,000, which has been earmarked solely for scholarships.
Referring to the outpouring donations made by our thoughtful and generous COP alumni, Dean Julie Johnson said, “We are overwhelmingly grateful for all the gifts given during this year’s Crisafi Challenge and thankful for the many supporters who rose to the challenge to help us far exceed our challenge goal.”
Personally, I thought her most impressive words were not in regards to the success of the challenge, but in regards to every penny of those donations being applied to scholarships. Julie went on to say, “As we saw with the first year of the Crisafi Challenge, these scholarships have a tremendous impact in attracting some of the best pharmacy students in Florida, and the nation, to UF.”
The College of Pharmacy administration is currently deciding on awarding scholarships for the entering class of 2017 and they see the number of scholarship holders more than doubling. If the Crisafi Challenge were to continue for the next three years, there could be as many as 50 to 60 scholarship recipients studying at the same time at the COP. That would be extraordinary for the COP as well as for student camaraderie, and that alone gave me the incentive to pledge $1,000,000 on May 1st, at the 2017 commencement exercises, to continue the Crisafi Challenge in perpetuity.
Only two years have passed since I proposed the Crisafi Challenge to the COP. I must admit, those two years have been thought-provoking for me because I knew, without the generosity and support of the pharmacy alumni, these well-deserved scholarships would never have been a possibility for worthy candidates who wanted to study at UF. The successes we, and I sincerely mean we, have encountered in the first two years of the Crisafi Challenge are a result of a combined effort of individuals who have a true love and affinity for their alma mater and a strong desire to help the next classes of students who will attend the same college that has served us so well.
It is well known that the success of the Crisafi Challenge has the attention of the President of the University as well as several other colleges on campus – they are looking at our unique scholarship program. They are surprised at what the COP has been able to accomplish in only two years. We have their attention, and it lends prestige to the COP. Let’s not lose that momentum. In fact, let’s have all of the colleges on campus talking about the COP’s Crisafi Challenge Scholarship Program.
This year, I’m increasing my challenge to $40,000, which when matched will yield $80,000. If only 10% of our great COP alumni make a gift to the 2017 Crisafi Challenge, we will easily raise more than $100,000…such a success story is certain to get the attention of each and every college on campus. And remember, every cent being allocated to scholarships.
For us to reach $100,000 for scholarships, we must attract additional alumni donors. In my heart, I know that will happen, just as it happened in 2015 and 2016. I am confident the 2017 Crisafi Challenge will be one of the most outstanding donor programs ever witnessed at the University of Florida, completely driven by alumni and friends of the College of Pharmacy.
I find it important to once more dwell on the quality of education being offered at our COP. Having funds available for scholarships will help the COP select the best and brightest students to matriculate into the Pharm.D. program, which in turn could eventually elevate our college ranking to a position within the top 5 in the country. That would be wonderful, not only for the prestige of the college, but also for all alumni.