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Pharmacy school can be stressful enough, but imagine your school closing midway through your training to enter the profession.

That’s the challenge Lance Berkowitz faced as a young student at George Washington University’s School of Pharmacy, who closed its doors in 1964. Berkowitz decamped to Richmond with seven of his classmates and finished schooling at the MCV School of Pharmacy.

“It became very clear how important it is that we continue attracting students to VCU.”

Lance Berkowitz

“If it wasn’t for MCV, I don’t know where we would be,” Berkowitz said. “From that point on, because of what they were willing to do for us, I became fairly active at the school.”

After finishing his degree in Richmond, Berkowitz and his wife Fran moved to Baltimore, where he and his family owned three community pharmacies, one of which opened in 1938. 

From every type of consult to filling more than 500 prescriptions a day, Berkowitz loved every minute of his career as a community pharmacist and the many people he worked with throughout the years. His stores served predominantly lower-income areas of the city, and he was an early leader in the U.S. for providing infertility and mental health treatments to patients across Baltimore and its surrounding counties.

Independent pharmacies are an area of the profession that Berkowitz wants to see thrive, and he initially created a scholarship to honor that tradition by supporting students who wanted to work in this area.

“When I talked to leaders at the school, it became very clear how important it is that we continue attracting students to VCU,” Berkowitz said. “Out-of-state students, especially, have other choices, and we made a decision to create this scholarship to show potential students that their first choice should be the MCV Campus.”

Now retired, Berkowitz and his wife, Fran, recently helped refocus and grow the Lance Berkowitz Independent Community Pharmacy Scholarship at the VCU School of Pharmacy to a recruitment scholarship that will help attract top students amid stiffening competition with mid-Atlantic peers in Maryland and North Carolina.

“Student recruitment is our number one challenge,” said K.C. Ogbonna, Pharm.D., dean of the School of Pharmacy. “We’re very grateful to Lance and Fran for their generosity and the tremendous impact they have had on the school.

The recruitment scholarship provides the school the opportunity to offer more competitive tuition to gain parity with other top schools of pharmacy in the region. Berkowitz and his wife have also included a generous bequest in their estate plans to grow the fund.

“I won’t give up working on behalf of the school,” Berkowitz said. “We were fortunate to have the School of Pharmacy take us in, and I will never forget that.”

If you would like to support student scholarships at the School of Pharmacy, please contact Louie Correa, senior director of development, by calling 804-828-3016 or emailing

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