Alumni gift creates $700,000 scholarship fund for pharmacy students

Monday, September 11th, 2017

John Smith, second from the left, Drake's vice president of university advancement, accepted the check that will be used by the Drake University College of Pharmacy for student scholarships. Check presenters, left to right, were William Bump, who handled the McLuen estate; nephews Steve McLuen and Eric McLuen; sister-in-law Dru McLuen; and Dave Grove, a financial advisor for Edward Jones.

A generous gift by two Drake University alumni will provide scholarships to pharmacy students in the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences.

The estate gift of $700,000 by James W. McLuen, PH’54, and Joyce McLuen will have lasting impact on aspiring pharmacists, health care professionals, and other students in Drake’s College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences.

“We are deeply appreciative of the generosity of Jim and Joyce McLuen—and what an admirable legacy for them to have left here at Drake,” said Renae Chesnut, dean of the Drake University College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. “Their scholarship fund will enhance the affordability of higher education for future generations of Drake students.”

As an endowed scholarship fund, the gift will live on in perpetuity at Drake, with the interest accrued on the gift being awarded in the form of scholarships each year. Scholarships will be designated for pharmacy students with demonstrated financial need; with preference given to students from Guthrie County, Iowa, where the McLuens spent their retirement years.

Jim McLuen earned his pharmacy degree from Drake University in 1954. After graduation, he served four years in the United States Army. In 1958, he went to work for Burkey Drug in Indianola; he purchased the business in 1966, naming it McLuen Drug, and sold it to his brother Ed McLuen, PH’58, upon his retirement. The store remained in operation until the early 2000s.

Joyce McLuen, known to friends as "Jo," attended Drake from fall 1949 through spring 1951. She worked for the Department of Natural Resources in the fish hatchery, keeping their books and managing the office, before becoming a bookkeeper at McLuen Drug.

Joyce McLuen died in April 2016; Jim died in November 2016.

“Drake held a very warm spot in their hearts,” said the McLuens’ sister-in-law, Dru McLuen. “They were loyal Drake followers, always; they went to every men’s basketball game, regardless of the weather. I was very, very happy to hear that they were able to provide this financial support to the University."

Indianola native Greg Johansen, PH’74, remembers the McLuens as kind, generous, and personable. He spent quite a bit of time in McLuen Drug as a child. His parents owned a nursing home nearby, so he often read comic books there, and sometimes picked up prescriptions on behalf of the nursing home residents. He eventually landed a job at McLuen Drug while pursuing his pharmacy degree at Drake, and continued to work there for 7 years after he graduated.

“It means a lot to me that they thought enough of their Drake experience, and the life it led them to, that they made the decision to support Drake in this way,” Johansen added. “The thought of them giving back only strengthens my resolve for philanthropy, and taking care of Drake as much as I can.”

The scholarship gift dovetails with a variety of other initiatives designed to enhance the quality and affordability of a Drake education. Those include the Drake University Tuition Guarantee, which allows incoming full-time students to pay the same tuition price throughout their undergraduate experience at Drake; and STEM@DRAKE, a $52 million initiative that adds two new academic buildings to Drake’s campus, renovates existing laboratory and classroom spaces, and supports new and existing academic programming in the areas of science, technology, education, and mathematics.

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September 11, 2017
Drake University is one of the Midwest’s best universities, with an exceptional commitment to undergraduate teaching, according to U.S. News & World Report 2018 "Best Colleges" rankings released today. 
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