Rising to the Challenge

Donors step up to modernize the College of Pharmacy’s Skaggs Pharmaceutical Sciences Center

Katy Smith and the UA College of Pharmacy, Chris Richards photo
Heidi M. Mansour, left, assistant professor of pharmaceutics and drug delivery, works in her lab with Priya Muralidharan, pharmacy graduate student.

Heidi M. Mansour and Ken Coit ’67 are two of 136 donors who have answered the Skaggs Challenge, a $25 million campaign to transform the University of Arizona College of Pharmacy’s Skaggs Pharmaceutical Sciences Center into a hub for innovative research and education.

Mansour, an assistant professor in the college, has a distinct vision for the future: bringing life-saving drugs to market using the center’s cutting-edge facilities and classrooms. 

In this future, the Skaggs Challenge has been achieved. Mansour is teaching in spaces designed to foster collaborative learning and working with UA colleagues to develop targeted and controlled-released drugs for diseases like respiratory distress syndrome, asthma, cystic fibrosis, pulmonary hypertension, congenital heart disease, lung fibrosis, neuroendocrine cancers and neuroscience diseases.  

Mansour was among the first to make a gift to expand and renovate the Skaggs Pharmaceutical Sciences Center. “It’s a no-brainer for me. I want to invest in moving us forward,” she says.

Mansour secured major grants from several government agencies, including the Food and Drug Administration, as well as Tech Launch Arizona, BIO5 Institute and pharmaceutical companies. Hers is one of few academic labs in the nation to design advanced inhaled formulations and inhaler devices for lung diseases. Some of these are in clinical trials, and others are close to reaching this stage.

With enhanced infrastructure, Mansour believes she and her fellow pharmacy faculty, working in collaboration with other UA researchers, can put superior medicines in pharmacies.

“To file with the FDA, you have to formulate and test on a bigger scale. This will give us that space. And you have to partner with companies. When they see an academic lab with cutting-edge facilities, it really helps them come on board,” she says.

Proposed rendering of the Skaggs Pharmaceutical Science Center (GLHNA Architects & Engineers, Inc.)

A Gift 50 Years in the Making

Ken Coit’s vision is to help the College of Pharmacy lead the world in every area, including recruitment of top students and faculty members. And, he says, “We need great facilities, not just good ones. You have to be the best to compete.”

Coit, together with his wife, Donna, donated $2 million to the Skaggs Challenge.

Coit has been a generous pharmacy supporter over the years and has served on the college’s National Advisory Board for the past decade. This is his largest gift to date; he was motivated by the matching challenge grant — and by gratitude.

“I have a real soft spot in my heart for the university and the time I spent there,” he says.

Coit changed careers after a few years as a pharmacist and now owns Coit Financial Group, a real estate investment firm that manages more than 8,000 apartment units in California.

“I believe my first responsibility is to take care of my clients, and I think that’s been the foundation of my success. It makes sense to give back to the college for teaching me that value,” he says.

This year, Coit has reached out to his Class of 1967 classmates with invitations to attend their 50th reunion and to give to the Skaggs Challenge and their class gift. Every gift made this year by members of the class will count toward the total, which will be announced at Homecoming.

“I’m stepping up to get more alumni to help the university that helped all of us get where we are today,” he says.



A hub for innovative research and education

The Skaggs Challenge: $25 million campaign

// Skaggs Pharmaceutical Sciences Center, the College of Pharmacy’s first building, was built with the support of Utah businessman L.S. “Sam” Skaggs 35 years ago. 

Now The ALSAM Foundation, established by the Skaggs family, has reinvested in the building with the $10 million challenge grant, the largest commitment in the college’s history, to renovate the space and expand it from 12,000 square feet to 31,500. 

Fundraising Deadline: Dec. 31, 2017

// Donors are being asked to commit $5 million to the project, which will trigger fulfillment of the $10 million pledge from The ALSAM Foundation. The UA will also contribute $10 million.

Nearly $23 million has been raised through the challenge so far.

Learn more about the Skaggs Pharmaceutical Sciences Center Challenge at pharmacy.arizona.edu/skaggs-challenge