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Memorial fund honours Pharmacy’s Dr. Pat Farmer

Posted by Jane Doucet on December 19, 2022 in Alumni & Friends


The newly established Dr. Pat Farmer Memorial Fund will offer financial assistance to a deserving Dalhousie College of Pharmacy student who requires academic encouragement in the program. The first recipient will be announced in June 2023.

Dr. Farmer, who died in October, joined the College of Pharmacy as a faculty member in 1968 and was beloved by his students, colleagues and staff. He and his wife, Dr. Mary Farmer, wanted to provide funding to help a deserving Pharmacy student with extra needs. The idea was born after Dr. Farmer tutored a student who was a single mother and struggling in the medicinal chemistry course he taught.

“Pat really admired the student’s determination, and he wanted to help people like her who might not be top of the class academically but who had empathy and all the right qualities to be a good pharmacist,” says Mary, a child psychologist who tutored in the College for 11 years after her 2001 retirement.

Susan Mansour, director of the College of Pharmacy and assistant dean in the Faculty of Health, was first a student of Dr. Farmer’s, then a colleague. “Pat had a quirky sense of humour with a big laugh, and we always knew when he was around,” she says. “He had such a commitment to the College. He was a true believer in problem-based learning and advocated for it before we made the move to the PBL curriculum in 1997, and he was proud of what we achieved.”

Finding a home at Dal

After growing up on a farm near Shelburne, Sask., Dr. Farmer earned his BPharm and MSc from the University of Saskatchewan and his PhD from Portsmouth University in England. While he was studying there, he met Mary when they both joined a badminton club at the university, where her sister worked as a technician in the Pharmacy lab.

Doctorate in hand, Dr. Farmer looked for a teaching job in England but couldn’t find one. “He turned down an offer from the University of Saskatchewan because he didn’t think I’d enjoy the weather there,” says Mary.

At that time, Dal was pushing its Pharmacy program to be more competitive in Canada. The director, Dr. Gordon Duff, knew of Pat, so he wrote to him and invited him to apply for a faculty position. “Pat said we’d go for two years, then we’d move on,” recalls Mary. “But we loved Dal and Halifax, and we never left.” The couple raised daughters Joanna and Sandra there.

Meeting a need

The Dr. Pat Farmer Memorial Fund comes at a time when tuition, rent and living expenses are extreme.

“Many students are struggling and at risk of dropping out of school because of financial challenges,” says Mansour, who has contributed to the fund. “Our students are the pharmacists of the future and valued front-line health-care professionals, and we need to support them. The Farmers’ generous donation will help alleviate some of that financial burden.”

The fund will help pay for books, rent, food, child care—anything the student might need. “Pat was so kind and caring, and concerned with helping other people,” says Mary. “He spent many years working at the local food bank and was one of the top blood/plasma donors in Nova Scotia. He would want the recipients of this award to know that their struggles are understood, and to help them achieve their goals with pride.”

Click here to donate to the Dr. Pat Farmer Memorial Fund.