Retired Faculty Member Builds Scholarship for Pharmacy Students

Joseph Byrd hopes to give other students the same opportunities he was afforded

A man and woman pose for a photo in their home.

OXFORD, Miss. – Joseph Byrd established a scholarship endowment to support University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy students with a $25,000 gift in 2016. That gift has since grown to more than $134,000.

The retired pharmacy professor's generosity, through continued contributions to the Dr. Joseph and Mrs. Jeanette Byrd Pharmacy Scholarship, reflects his gratitude for the help he received as a student.

"Scholarships allowed me to attend school, and knowing how that support contributed to me being able to accomplish all I was able to is what drives me to keep contributing to this fund," said Byrd, a native of Biloxi who lives in Jackson.

"I know that so many helped me to get to where I am, and I think it's important for others to ask themselves who helped them and how can they give back."

Byrd's desire to pay forward to the next generation is admired by Donna Strum, dean of the School of Pharmacy.

"We appreciate Dr. Byrd's unwavering dedication to pharmacy education and pharmacy students," Strum said. "His continued commitment to growing his scholarship endowment is a great gift to the pharmacy school and a wonderful way to support our students for years to come."

After earning bachelor's and master's degrees in pharmacy at Ole Miss, Byrd enrolled at Philadelphia College of Pharmacy intending to become a director of hospital pharmacy. Fate had other plans, and in 1971, he was recruited to return to Mississippi to implement a clinical training program at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson.

During his tenure there, first as a professor and then associate dean for clinical affairs, the pilot program Byrd founded grew from having 12 to 13 students during a five-week program to being a two-year component for all pharmacy students.

"It wasn't a career path that I planned to have, but I don't regret the decision to come back because I felt strongly that such a program was needed," Byrd said. "Seeing the students progress and mature as they saw the application of what they were learning in real time was one of the most rewarding experiences for me."

Byrd's impact on his profession has resulted in him seeing former students in practically every pharmacy he visits throughout the state.

"Dr. Byrd was instrumental in shaping my path in academia and pharmacy practice when he hired me as department chair," said Kristopher Harrell, the school's associate dean for academic affairs.

"He continues to inspire me through his ongoing generosity and dedication to the School of Pharmacy and the future generation of pharmacists."

To make a gift to the Dr. Joseph and Mrs. Jeanette Byrd Pharmacy Scholarship Endowment, send a check, with the endowment's name noted in the memo line, to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655; or give online here.

For information on supporting the School of Pharmacy, click here or contact Laura Gullett, development officer, at or 662-915-2384.

Top: Jeanette (left) and Joseph Byrd have steadfastly built a scholarship endowment for UM pharmacy students. Joe Byrd, a retired Ole Miss professor, said the support reflects his gratitude for the scholarships he received as a pharmacy student. Photo by Laura Gullett


Mary Stanton Knight


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June 29, 2024