College of Pharmacy inaugural class takes oath of profession during historic ceremony

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Date: Sunday, October 14, 2007
Contact: Alyson Kakugawa-Leong, (808) 974-7642

For Immediate Release

Tradition and precedent were on display today at the University of Hawaii at Hilo Performing Arts Center where the College of Pharmacy (CoP) held its first-ever White Coat Ceremony. Various community leaders and dignitaries joined the College of Pharmacy dean, faculty, students and their families at the historic event, which formally kicked off the four-year program that will produce the school’s first graduates in 2011.

“This is an exciting day for UH Hilo and especially for these students,” said Chancellor Rose Tseng. “Years from now, when the College of Pharmacy is recognized as one of the finest institutions of its kind anywhere, they’ll be able to look back on this day and realize that they were part of history in the making.”

The White Coat Ceremony is a rite of passage for students in the health care field to affirm their commitment to the values of their profession, which include professionalism, respect, integrity and caring. They wore their white consultation coats, a symbol of their place in the health care profession as a care provider. More specifically, it marked the first time they recited the Oath of a Pharmacist in front of their peers, professors, community and families as they publicly declared their intent to become a compassionate and respectable health care professional.

“Building this College from the ground up has been a rewarding challenge,” said Dean John Pezzuto in his remarks. “As I gaze at this inaugural class, in their professional white coats as they cite the Oath of the Pharmacist, it is very clear that we are transforming the UH Hilo campus and the way healthcare will be practiced in the State of Hawaiʻi. Each member of this class is a pioneer. They have already earned our respect and hardiest congratulations.”

Other highlights of the ceremony included the performance of two chants by students and faculty of UH Hilo’s Ka Haka ‘Ula O Ke‘elikōlani College of Hawaiian Language, including a mele emphasizing the value of knowledge and wisdom. The importance of the occasion to students was underscored in the keynote address delivered by Dr. Pat DeLeon, chief of staff to U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye, who was instrumental in persuading his congressional colleagues to fund the venture.

“We are delighted to see the tremendous progress of the College of Pharmacy at UH Hilo,” DeLeon said. “It is our vision that each neighbor island will harbor centers of excellence, and this new College of Pharmacy certainly meets that challenge. On behalf of Senator Inouye, I am pleased to join others in congratulating the faculty and staff, and especially the students, on these great accomplishments.”

The event also served as a formal introduction of the 90 students who make up the inaugural class, which will award its first Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) degrees in 2011. Current plans call for the addition of 80-90 students per year for a total of four classes. Interest in the program has been running high based on applications for admission to the Fall 2008 class, which are expected to approach 1,000 by the February 2008 deadline.

For more information about the College of Pharmacy, please call (808) 443-5900 or email

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