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Faye Panasci and Family Give $1 Million to Support Pharmacy School's New Home

By Mary Cochrane

Release Date: February 19, 2009

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The atrium in John Kapoor Hall will be named the Panasci Atrium in honor of the Panasci family's generosity.

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The namesake of Fay's Drugs, Faye Panasci, has given $1 million to the University at Buffalo School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, where her husband and father-in-law began their quest to build the highly successful chain of pharmacies that catered to their customers' every need.

Along with her son, David Panasci, and daughter, Beth Leventhal, Faye Panasci is continuing the family's tradition of giving back to UB begun by Henry A. Panasci Jr., B.A. '48, B.S. '52, and his father, Henry A. Panasci Sr., B.A. '25, by contributing $1 million to fund the atrium of the new home for the pharmacy school, John Kapoor Hall on the UB South (Main Street) Campus.

In honor of the family's generosity, UB will name the atrium the Panasci Atrium.

"Knowing how important the pharmacy school was to Henry and his father, I am delighted to be able to support the construction of the new building and the future of the school," Faye Panasci said.

Giving to one's community and, in particular, supporting education, has been a longtime tradition in the Panasci family. Both Henry Panasci Sr., and Henry Panasci Jr., gave to their alma mater in order to endow pharmacy student scholarships. In 1999, Henry Panasci Jr., gave $1 million to UB to create the popular annual technology entrepreneurship competition that bears his name.

"We are pleased to once again be honored with a gift from the Panasci family, whose legacy of giving to UB began long ago with Henry Panasci Sr., was passed on to Henry Jr., and now is continued through the generosity of his wife, Faye Panasci, and their children," Wayne K. Anderson, dean of the pharmacy school, said. "As Fay's grew in size and success, the Panascis never forgot their founding premise: to value their customers and give back to their communities, which is reflected in this most recent and generous gift."

UB President John B. Simpson praised the Panascis for "viewing UB as an institution worthy of the family's investment and trust.

"Their support of UB and, in particular, of the pharmacy school's new flagship building, demonstrates the family's continuing ability to spot the highest quality products, in this case, higher education," Simpson said. "We thank the Panasci family for offering the gift of learning to future generations of students."

David Panasci has fond memories of the family business, which his father and grandfather cofounded in 1958; the first Fay's drugstore was in Syracuse, N.Y. He lives with his wife, Jan, in the Syracuse area, as does his mother, Faye Panasci.

David Panasci also had his own name for the chain.

"I never called it Fay's; I called it 'Dad's' because it's where my dad worked and because you could always find my grandfather behind the pharmacy counter," David Panasci recalled. "I always thought 'this is a neat place to be.'"

While his grandfather and father were always generous with their customers, they were frugal when it came to overhead costs. They agreed to name their business after Henry Panasci Jr.'s wife, Faye, but decided to cut the "e" in order to save space and expense on the store signs.

"Every time patients came to see my grandfather, he wanted to make sure they walked out of store with what they needed to get better," David Panasci said. "One of the things that attracted both my father and grandfather to the pharmacy profession was that they would be community pharmacists. They were in touch with people and were eager to help them every day. Their work spilled out into the community."

His father, who "was more enthused by the business aspects of the pharmacy profession," had a keen business sense and eye for successful markets that helped the business grow rapidly, David Panasci said. Fay's boasted more than 270 locations and nearly $1 billion in annual sales when J.C. Penney Co. acquired the company in 1996.

"He had a methodical view of where the opportunities always were -- and they were where the people were. One of the reasons he was successful was he had a very good nose for choosing locations," David Panasci said.

The more success they experienced, the more his grandfather and father emphasized the obligation to give back to their communities, he said.

"I don't remember how young I was, but my father would say 'You have to do this.' It was a value," David Panasci said.

He added that his grandfather and father, both of whom are deceased, would be thrilled to be giving once again to UB and to the pharmacy school, which they view as sharing their "sense of community."

"UB and the pharmacy school were a positive experience for my grandfather and father, no question about that. They had a very strong sense of loyalty to UB," David Panasci said. "My father especially would be so excited about giving back because of the growth the university and the school have seen in the past few years."

He said the atrium is very fitting for his family to support, because no such space exists currently and it "offers the school a renewed sense of community for the students and faculty."

David Panasci is actively involved in the pharmacy school, serving on its National Industrial Advisory Board, lecturing in pharmacy management classes and mentoring students in the National Community Pharmacy Association's annual Pruitt-Schutte Student Business Plan Competition.

The UB pharmacy school is preparing for its eventual move to the South Campus, where it will join the university's four other health science schools -- dental medicine, medicine, nursing and public health -- that comprise the UB Academic Health Center. It will be the first UB professional school to relocate back to the City of Buffalo since construction of the North (Amherst) Campus began in the 1970s.

David Panasci said he also hopes that the gift from his family will inspire others to support the UB School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences because of the educational opportunities it offers future generations.

"I have no hesitation asking others to give to the university. I feel so positive about the future of the pharmacy school and UB overall. I think it is just a tremendous investment. For students, especially those in upstate New York, I think it offers a wonderful opportunity to get the best education."

The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, a flagship institution in the State University of New York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus. UB's more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American Universities.