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Donation helps UF build new center in Lake Nona

By Linda Homewood
Lake Nona Groundbreaking

Donor David L. Bean and College of Pharmacy students at the Lake Nona site./Photo by Ray Carson

David L. Bean graduated from the UF College of Pharmacy in 1952. Fifty years later, he pledged to support his alma mater’s efforts to teach pharmacy students in Orlando, his hometown.

Now a retired community pharmacist, Bean donated $1.2 million to establish a UF College of Pharmacy campus in Orlando. On Oct. 5, that goal came a few shovels of dirt closer to reality when UF broke ground on the new UF Research and Academic Center in Lake Nona.

In recognition of Bean’s gift, the pharmacy campus — located within the new Lake Nona facility — will be named the Helen and David Bean Campus of the University of Florida College of Pharmacy, Orlando.

In 2002, the UF College of Pharmacy established three Florida campuses — in Orlando, St. Petersburg and Jacksonville — to educate and train more student pharmacists in the state. The Orlando campus, temporarily housed at the UF IFAS Mid-Florida Research and Education Center in Apopka, supports more than 200 UF doctor of pharmacy students and more than 20 faculty and staff.

“At the UF Research and Academic Center, student pharmacists will learn from talented faculty members at a state-of-the-art complex to prepare for the challenges and opportunities they will face during their careers and lifetimes,” said William H. Riffee, Ph.D., dean of the UF College of Pharmacy.

In addition to teaching pharmacy students in Orlando, the college also will advance its translational research in drug discovery and development, and its medication therapy management service to patients receiving Medicare prescription benefits, Riffee said.

The Research and Academic Center will unite researchers from the UF colleges of Medicine, Pharmacy and Liberal Arts and Sciences with colleagues at the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute at Lake Nona to identify, optimize and develop new therapies for the most devastating human diseases, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, brain disorders and aging.

The seed of Bean’s philanthropy to support UF pharmacy education grew from humble beginnings and a $10 commercial account.

“I worked for 14 years in Orlando pharmacies, saving my money for a day when I could buy my own pharmacy,” Bean said. “In 1966, I bought the Altamonte Pharmacy for $11,000, including the previous owner’s commercial bank account.”

After 11 years in Altamonte, Bean moved his business to the Longwood Professional Center at Palm Springs Drive and State Road 434. He operated under the new Palm Springs Pharmacy for 19 more years.

Through the course of his 30 years in business, the Beans acquired a five-acre parcel in Osceola County. After his wife Helen died in 2000, Bean donated the land to UF. In 2007, the sale of this parcel brought a $1.2 million gift to the College of Pharmacy to begin searching for a new campus home for its Orlando students and faculty.

“My education from the University of Florida gave me a great opportunity to pursue a business I loved,” Bean said. “There comes a time to give back to the university, which has been so influential in my life.”