Alumni of the Year
Research Makes For Better Teaching, says Howard
Canadian Pharmacy Leader Coutu Found Samford To
Research Makes For Better Teaching,
says Howard G. Clark
The best teachers are those that stay current with their
discipline. And one of the best ways-perhaps the best way-to
stay current is by performing research. So believes Dr. Howard
G. Clark '47.
"If you teach the chemistry you learned in school, in
about five years, you're teaching obsolete material,"
he said. "If you pursue research in the right way, you're
keeping up with the latest developments."
Clark retired from the faculty of Duke University, where
he successfully combined a career in teaching and research
for almost three decades. He visited Samford in October for
the opening of the new Sciencenter and to receive recognition
as 2001 Alumnus of the Year.
|Above: Francois Coutu '81, left, and Howard G.
Clark '47 enjoy halftime recognition as 2001 Samford Alumni
of the Year. Right: Clark visits with fellow alumni at Homecoming
||"Howard Clark is proof positive of Samford's
great tradition in the sciences," said University President
Thomas E. Corts. "His career at Duke University demonstrates
how an individual with a strong undergraduate experience and
success at the graduate level uses imagination and background
to become a high-profile scientist."
A professor of biomedical and biochemical engineering, Clark holds
seven patents in scientific fields. He is a pioneer in research
that led to the development of a stent that allows targeted drug
delivery to a specific tissue in the body. The stent is used frequently
following angioplasty surgery to hold open an artery while it heals.
Clark says he always tried to emulate teaching qualities he admired
in one of his Samford professors, Dr. Harold Wilcox. "He was
enthusiastic, dynamic, skeptical and intelligent, and wasn't offended
if you questioned something he said," Clark recalled. "I
have never taught a course without thinking about what Dr. Wilcox
would have done."
In 1998, Clark established the Harold E. Wilcox Scholarship to
assist Samford science students and to honor his former professor.
Clark, from Birmingham's Southside, enrolled at Samford at age
16. His chemistry teacher at Ramsay High School had recommended
the school. "It was during World War II, and my parents weren't
ready for me to leave home. Plus, I had a job in the chemistry department
stock room. [It] was a good deal for me."
Clark's class of 1947 included only four chemistry majors, all
four of whom went on to earn Ph.D. degrees. The other three were
Leven Hazlegrove, W. D. Peeples and James Wood. Hazlegrove and Peeples
served on the Samford faculty for many years, chairing the chemistry
and mathematics departments, respectively. Clark earned his master's
at the University of Notre Dame and Ph.D. at the University of Maryland.
The student body Clark remembers was far different from today's.
The campus housed hundreds of Navy V-12 trainees when he entered.
When the war ended, summer enrollment dropped to about 225.
"I knew each student on campus," he remembered, "but
so did everybody else. It was tight-knit. Then the veterans came
[on the GI Bill], and enrollment grew quickly."
While at Samford, Clark met his wife-to-be, Julia Evans, also a
chemistry student. They have three grown children and eight grandchildren.
Canadian Pharmacy Leader Coutu Found
Samford To His Liking
Francois Coutu '81 believes he is the first Samford graduate
to speak with a "French Southern drawl." It's an
accent he acquired after venturing south from his native Quebec
to attend pharmacy school at Samford in the late 1970s.
Coutu was reared in Canada's French-speaking province, where
his father started the Jean Coutu Group of pharmacies with
a single drugstore in the 1960s. Coutu grew up working in
the family business and determined he would be a pharmacist.
Even as a youngster, he was impressed with the close relationship
pharmacists have with their customers.
|International Alumnus of the Year Francois Coutu,
left, gets a preview of the new Sciencenter with help from McWhorter
School of Pharmacy Dean Joe Dean.
Today, he heads the Coutu pharmacy group, which owns more than
500 pharmacies in Canada and New England. He also serves as vice
president of the Canadian Association of Chain Drugstores.
Coutu already held a business degree from Canada's McGill University
when he decided to study pharmacy in the U.S. He applied to several
American pharmacy schools but liked Samford-and Birmingham-the best.
McWhorter School of Pharmacy Dean Joe Dean, then pharmacy admissions
director, met Coutu at the Birmingham airport on his first trip
"During that visit, I fell in love with the campus and the
city," Coutu recalled at Homecoming. A 10-year member of McWhorter's
advisory board, he was back on campus to be honored as Samford's
first International Alumnus of the Year. "I still appreciate
[Dean's] kinship and hospitality."
Coutu enjoyed his days at Samford, and actually encountered a version
of what today's pharmacy students know as problem-based learning.
Pharmacy professor Tony McBride was using similar techniques even
then to help students know what they could expect in the profession.
"He had a good way of presenting learning situations in the
classroom," Coutu said. "He would take a pharmacy problem
and put it into a real-life situation. It was a great way to learn."
After earning his degree, Coutu ventured even further south, working
as a pharmacy trainee in Hollywood, Fla. He also met his future
wife in Florida, a Canadian named Claude. They have a son and two
Coutu returned to Canada in 1983 and moved into the operations
and marketing end of the family enterprise. He served as vice president
over several areas before becoming head of the company in 1990.
Under his leadership, the group has become Canada's second largest
Coutu is somewhat removed now from his over-the-counter days in
the pharmacy. He runs the company from a Montreal office, concentrating
on the business side and working hard to remain current in medication
information. But one of his joys remains chatting with customers,
and he makes that happen through regular visits to his pharmacies.
"I always enjoy what pharmacists do," he said. "It's
rewarding to counsel people."
Coutu can counsel them in French or English. You can bet when it's
in English, he's speaking with a French Southern drawl.