Spirited entrepreneur strives to convey richness and variety of UB program
By Blair Boone
Bruce Moden, B.S. '57, remembers working 13 hours a day, seven days a week to make his dream of being an independent, community-based pharmacy owner come true.
"I had bought a pharmacy and was remodeling it," he says, laughing. "I'd fill a prescription, then go in the back and knock a few more blocks out of the wall. When someone came in, I'd go out and fill another prescription, then go back to the wall." With enough sweat equity—plus some help from the pizza shop owner next door, who brought over a forklift he used to move his pizza ovens—Moden expanded the store to create another successful community pharmacy.
Over the course of his 45-year career, Moden owned five pharmacies and a hardware store, was president of both the local pharmaceutical association and the state pharmaceutical society, ran for a seat in the New York State Assembly, testified before the Federal Trade Commission on behalf of pharmacists, received the Bowl of Hygeia Award for outstanding community service by a pharmacist and served as president and treasurer of the UB School of Pharmacy Alumni Association.
Along the way, Moden also kept alive his passion for farming by raising potatoes, tomatoes and flowers for local markets, kept active in his church, worked in local preservation efforts, and with his wife Barbara raised four daughters: Valerie, Nancy, Linda and Karen, a 1997 graduate of the School of Pharmacy.
Today Moden brings that same hands-on, entrepreneurial spirit to the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences' committee which he chairs for The Campaign for UB: Generation to Generation. Yet, despite his remarkable record of success, both professionally and as leader of the school's fund-raising campaign, he is quietly modest.
"I'm more of a figurehead," he smiles. "There are 38 people on the committee from all over the country and from all pharmaceutical disciplines—independent retailers, drugstore chains, manufacturing and research. I think the people around me contribute the majority of the leadership."
The committee's diverse membership represents not only the wealth of talent produced by the school over the past decades, but also the growth and change in the field of pharmacy that Moden has seen take place throughout his career.
It's also a powerful reflection of the school's rank as one of the top 10 pharmacy schools nationally, and its drive to stay on the cutting edge of pharmaceutical science and practice.
In addition to raising the funds needed to keep the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences in the leading echelon of pharmacy programs, the campaign also provides an opportunity to reach out to alumni, some of whom have lost touch with UB. For Moden, the campaign also reaffirms the connections among the pharmaceutical disciplines.
"As we become a more research-oriented school, there's a tendency for the distance between the ‘we' of independent pharmacists and retail chains and the ‘they' of research and manufacturing to become greater," observes Moden. "I want anyone, regardless of discipline, to feel free to access the resources available at UB, to feel part of the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. It's not a big ivory tower. Everyone at the school is striving to meet the needs of the entire pharmacy community."
Moden's worldly wise, community-oriented philosophy supports the school's four major initiatives, which include the expanded scope of pharmacy practice; the creation of a multidisciplinary, collaborative research center, the Center for Drug Discovery and Experimental Therapeutics, or CDDET; the Pharmacotherapy Research Center and the Instrumentation Center. Both centers serve as the technology and equipment infrastructure for bio-pharmaceutical research at UB.
The campaign also supports the ongoing need to recruit top-notch faculty, and to provide students with scholarships and improved facilities.
"It's a surprise to many people, but UB is now more like a private institution than they'd like to believe. There's always been a gap between the tuition students pay and the actual cost of their education, and today that gap is wider than ever," says Moden. "So the need for scholarship assistance through private philanthropy is greater than ever." Although the state pays about a third of UB's operating costs, less of those costs than at any time since UB joined the State University system, Moden observes, "it is a critical margin of resources upon which fund-raising builds."
As someone who had to work his way through pharmacy school, Moden is keenly aware of the financial needs of students, especially now that pharmacists must complete a six-year course of study culminating in the Pharm. D. degree.
"I remember being in class one day when Dean Murray walked in and asked everyone who had to work to go to school to raise their hands," Moden says. "About a third of us raised our hands, and he asked us to come to his office after class." Once there, they listened as Murray told them to drop out, save their money and come back when they could devote their lives full time to the study of pharmacy.
"I protested that I was working, playing on the basketball team and was still in the upper third of the class," laughs Moden ruefully. "I didn't drop out, but I quit basketball. After that, Dean Murray was especially hard on me in every class I had with him."
Today, Moden hails the rigor and discipline of the school's faculty who are providing students with outstanding preparation for their pharmacy careers. And he cites that preparation and training when asking alumni and friends of the school for gifts to support that continuing excellence.
Noting that "in my 45 years, there's never been a placement problem for beginning pharmacists" and that pharmacists enjoy among the highest initial salaries of any professional, Moden says, "if you're an alumnus of the school, look at what you have and what UB has done for you. You became something because of UB, and it's time to give back."
Giving back is a philosophy Moden lives by. In 1997, he received the Bowl of Hygeia Award. Given annually by the Pharmacists Society of the State of New York and Wyeth-Ayerst Laboratories to only one individual statewide, the award recognizes outstanding community service by a pharmacist.
Recently, as a resident of East Aurora, New York, he played a significant role on the Committee to Save East Aurora's Residential Character and Heritage that sought to ensure that future development would not negatively affect the community's quality of life.
His quiet leadership and personal example have also brought success to the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences' campaign. In October of 2000, the school reached its initial goal of $12,000,000 in gifts—nearly three years ahead of schedule. But the committee, recognizing the growing need for funding brought about by the rapid pace of change in pharmacy and throughout health care, raised the final goal to $18,000,000. As of June 30, 2002, alumni and friends had given or pledged $15,393,305, leaving $2,606,695 still to be raised by the end of the campaign in June 2003.
Moden stresses the importance of every gift, large or small, as well as the benefits of regular giving for everyone involved. "My daughter, who is just beginning her own pharmacy career, asked me how much she should give," Moden relates. "I told her I don't care how much it is. Just develop the habit of giving. That's the important thing.
"There's a heck of a lot going on at UB," enthuses Moden. "It's nice to be part of that," he says, and then adds, "It's not a ‘we-they' issue. If you develop a habit of giving, everyone becomes part of ‘we.'"
Blair Boone, Ph.D. '84, is a Buffalo-based freelance writer.