UMKC School of Pharmacy Celebrates Scholarships and Students

Two new scholarships, one that funds research opportunities, were highlighted at the annual scholarship award ceremony

Steve Stoner knows the financial burdens that college students carry. As the UMKC School of Pharmacy’s associate dean for student affairs, he works with them on a regular basis.

That is why he and his family recently established the Stoner Family Scholarship, recognized along with the school’s Pharmacy Predoctoral Fellowship as its newest student awards during the annual Achievers of Excellence Scholarship Awards program on April 21.

The ceremony acknowledges students who have received scholarships or awards from the school, its constituent groups and the university. Almost 90 students were recognized as having received financial support in the past year from one of more than 50 different awards.

“Working with students on a daily basis, I am well aware of the financial and other insecurities they experience,” Stoner said. “I never want financial roadblocks to be a hurdle to one’s education and being able to achieve their professional dreams.”

A pharmacy educator at the UMKC School of Pharmacy since 1996, Stoner practiced in psychiatric pharmacy and served as chair of the Division of Pharmacy Practice and Administration before his student affairs appointment. With a father who was a middle and high school teacher and middle school principal, a commitment to education, learning and mentoring students is part of his DNA. 

Steve and Tiffany Stoner with scholarship recipient Alex Mills
Steve and Tiffany Stoner with scholarship recipient Alex Mills

“I have been very fortunate in the profession of pharmacy to help patients live better lives and to train students to do the same and make an even bigger difference,” Stoner said. “This scholarship is just a small way for my wife Tiffany and I, and our children, Peyton and Mallory, to give back to the profession and our pharmacy students. The UMKC School of Pharmacy has been a part of my life for almost 30 years and this is a way to have a lasting impact in helping others.” 

The school also celebrated its new Predoctoral Research Fellowship program, a summer research opportunity for students that launched last year with support from a group of generous donors who provided the initial stipends.

“While we learned lessons that will help the program move forward, we were able to provide significant research experiences for pharmacy students who otherwise may not have considered the possibility of a career in research,” said Russ Melchert, dean of the School of Pharmacy. 

With Ph.D. programs consistently ranked in the top half of U.S. pharmacy schools in extramural funding, UMKC School of Pharmacy students have enjoyed excellent job placement for decades. But Melchert said that most Pharm.D. students don’t have the opportunity to experience research projects because of curriculum requirements or the need to spend summers in pharmacy technician jobs to financially support their education. 

The research fellowship program is designed to overcome those challenges. Last summer it provided funding to four students who gained hands-on research experience, collaborating with a faculty mentor. 

“We are hopeful that the students will continue engagement in research and perhaps even enter research careers upon graduation,” Melchert said. “Now we look to build on this success and to double the size of the program in the coming years.”

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Published: Apr 26, 2023

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