Published on June 1, 2023 by Frank Ruggiero  
francois coutu
Samford Pharmacy alum Francois Coutu '81 recently agreed to donate $2.5 million toward student scholarships.

An alumnus from Samford University’s McWhorter School of Pharmacy is administering a generous dose of philanthropy.

Francois Coutu ’81 recently agreed to donate $2.5 million toward student scholarships—the third-largest gift in Samford Pharmacy’s history.

“This amazing gift will immediately impact students,” said Michael Crouch, McWhorter School of Pharmacy dean and professor.

The gift establishes the Coutu Scholar Program, Crouch explained, and this new endowment will annually award three incoming first-year pharmacy students a yearly recurring scholarship of $10,000 for four years.

In addition, one of Samford Pharmacy’s most-used classrooms—room 1409 in the College of Health Sciences—will be named the Coutu Classroom and feature recognition within and without, including photos, family history and more.

"McWhorter School of Pharmacy has a history, a reputation and the best location in the thriving city of Birmingham," Coutu said. "With the help of these scholarships, we hope students will render their appreciation back to their patients once they graduate for the benefit of our society."

Crouch described Coutu as a “dedicated alumnus and an exemplar for our students.” After graduating in 1981, Coutu held various management positions, including president and chief executive officer, within the Jean Coutu Group Inc., a Canadian pharmacy chain started by his father with more than 400 franchised locations in New Brunswick, Ontario and Quebec.

In 2018, McWhorter School of Pharmacy established a formal affiliation with the Jean Coutu Group, wherein students can complete a five-week advanced pharmacy practice experience at a Jean Coutu pharmacy in Montreal, Quebec during the final year of the pharmacy program.

“I’m thankful for Mr. Coutu's commitment to McWhorter School of Pharmacy, and this gift helps Samford Pharmacy continue to recruit the best and brightest students called to serve others through this great profession,” Crouch said. “The first scholarships will be awarded to students starting pharmacy school this fall.”

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.