Connecting with Health Care Academies

Pacific is connecting with health care academies across Northern California to help high school students experience the array of dynamic career possibilities within the realm of health care. “Speaking from personal experience, I understand the limited perception many people have when it comes to health care careers,” said Marisella Guerrero ’98, PharmD, assistant clinical professor of pharmacy practice. “Having worked in various areas of pharmacy myself and also witnessing colleagues branch out within our field, provides me with a unique perspective on how diverse a health care career can really be. Even if students are unsure whether a health care career is for them, there are so many opportunities within health care, they are bound to find something they enjoy and are passionate about.”


Benjamin Reece ’01’08, MS, CCC-SLP, director of clinical education and assistant clinical professor of speech-language pathology, is excited to introduce students to his field. “There is not a general understanding of what a speech-language pathologist does or the different settings in which we serve,” he said.

Echoing his sentiments, Preeti Deshpande Oza, PT, PhD, NCS, assistant professor of physical therapy, shared how students have responded after her presentation on physical therapy. “Some have remarked that they did not know physical therapists worked in the hospital or intensive care unit,” said Dr. Oza. A common misconception is physical therapists work almost exclusively with injured athletes. Through these tours, students become aware that therapists are movement specialists who work with patients in many different settings.

A highlight of the tours is the interactive virtual reality demonstrations. With the help of Innovation Spaces Coordinator Jeremy Hanlon, who supervises The Cube, and Health Sciences Librarian Kate Finnegan, students dissect virtual healthy and unhealthy organs or explore neurological and skeletal systems. Students also learn how audiology is at the intersection of science, technology and patient care from Gail Amornpongchai, AuD, clinical director of audiology for Stockton, and Jan de la Cruz ’18, AuD.


Finnegan believes the rich cultural diversity found in the Central Valley is a valuable resource for the future of health care. Exposing high school students to a wide range of careers within health care removes the mystery that may surround these professions. Reece shared, “Based on my experience working in the public-school system, I know many students do not see themselves as future college students or as future health care practitioners. It is important to show them how accessible Pacific is and that they can pursue higher education, specifically in health care related fields.”

These tours help students picture themselves as future athletic trainers, audiologists, pharmacists, physical therapists and speech-language pathologists. “Each visitor receives a personal experience on campus with students, faculty and staff,” said Stephanie Anderson-Barroso, recruiting specialist. “Guests share their positive impressions and memories of Pacific with their family, friends and communities, creating a priceless ripple effect.”

Student Spotlight: David Carranza ’19

Doctor of pharmacy student David Carranza ’16, ’19 has been awarded a prestigious Fulbright scholarship to study health care policy in Finland. “I was looking at countries that have generous health care benefits with reduced cost of medication, reduced cost of health services and better access overall,” said Carranza. “Finland is at the forefront in the utilization of health technology and empowerment of pharmacists.”

The Fulbright Scholar Program was established in 1946 to fulfill the vision of Sen. J. William Fulbright of increasing mutual understanding between the United States and other countries. The program currently collaborates with 155 countries and is overseen by the U.S. Department of State. Carranza is one of approximately 1,600 students from the U.S. who received a scholarship this year.

As an undergraduate student at Pacific, he double majored in pre-pharmacy and economics. Carranza will leave in August to study at the University of Tampere in Finland where he will pursue a master of science in public and global health. Carranza plans to immerse himself into Finland’s health care system to better understand the patient experience. His goal is to apply what he learns to help Americans get access to the health care they need by advocating for changes in public policy.

In Memoriam: Donald L. Sorby, PhD


Donald L. Sorby, PhD

Aug. 12, 1933 – Feb. 16, 2019

Educator, mentor and world traveler, Dean Emeritus Donald L. Sorby, PhD served as dean of the Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences from 1984 until his retirement in 1995.

He earned his bachelor of science from University of Nebraska in 1955. He earned a master of science in 1958 and a doctor of philosophy in 1960 from University of Washington.

He taught at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), School of Pharmacy from 1960 to 1972 and University of Washington from 1972 to 1974. While at UCSF he contributed to the development of the clinical pharmacy education by helping establish a program where pharmacy students joined physicians and medical students on their hospital rounds. Dr. Sorby served as dean of University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC), School of Pharmacy from 1974 until 1984.

He joined the Pacific family in 1984. Under his leadership the Department of Physical Therapy was established within the School. He served as dean during a time of swift technological advances and was an early adopter himself. His strong ties to community partners included Thomas and Joseph Long. He served on the Longs Drugs board of directors from 1995 to 2006.

Throughout his career, he was actively involved in the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy and served a term as president from 1980 to 1981. He encouraged faculty and students to participate in professional organizations. During his tenure as dean, Pacific’s chapter of the American Pharmacists Association-Academy of Student Pharmacists (APhA-ASP) earned the Chapter Achievement award three times and five students received the California Pharmacists Association Student of the Year award. Dr. Sorby received the Linwood F. Tice Friend of APhA-ASP Award in 1995.

“I met Dean Sorby many years ago when he was a faculty member at UCSF and I was student,” said Phillip R. Oppenheimer, PharmD, dean of the Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. “He tried very hard to help me learn pharmacokinetics. When I came to Pacific as dean he was very supportive and helped significantly with the transition to becoming dean.”

William A. Kehoe, PharmD, MA, FCCP, BCPS, professor and chair of the Department of Pharmacy Practice, shared the impact Dr. Sorby’s mentorship made on him personally. “He was a kind and wise leader,” said Dr. Kehoe. “I had no experience as a faculty member until joining Pacific. Dean Sorby provided great support in so many ways that really launched my career.” Reflecting on Dr. Sorby’s leadership, Timothy J. Smith, RPh, PhD, professor of physiology and pharmacology, described him as “quiet and calmly confident.”

“Dean Sorby was a very bright, kind, humble person,” said his former Pacific colleague Katherine Knapp, PhD. “He was delightful to work with and always unassuming about his achievements. He emphasized building the academic reputation of the school of pharmacy by encouraging and supporting faculty scholarly works, faculty research and postdoctoral fellowships. He was always accessible to students and interested in their achievements. He and his wife, Jacquie, provided some lovely, memorable receptions for faculty at their Stockton home. […] He retired from Pacific with many friends and much admiration.”

Dr. Sorby and his wife, Jacquelyn Jeanne Burchard, were married for 59 years. Together they raised her two children, Thomas Burchard and Sharon Lynn Sorby.

He and his wife traveled extensively. From Antarctica to the Amazon, their travels included trips to Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, China, Mexico, New Zealand, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, Peru and Tibet. They were also self-proclaimed “rock hounds.” Emeriti faculty may remember the boxes of rocks stored in the basement.

He is survived by his wife, children and grandchildren.

Dean Phillip R. Oppenheimer Announces His Plans for Retirement

After 22 years as Dean of University of the Pacific’s Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences and 46 years in academia, Phillip R. Oppenheimer has announced his plans for retirement.

“I have been blessed to work with many talented faculty, students, and staff, as well as with dedicated alumni and donors as a part of the Pacific community that welcomed Teri and me over two decades ago.  We have made Stockton and Pacific our home and family, and we look forward to our continued engagement with the university community. I am very proud of the School and the professions we serve, and I am thankful for the opportunity to have served as Dean,” said Oppenheimer.


The University will conduct a national search following the formation of a search committee and identifying a search firm. Dean Oppenheimer has been asked to remain in his position until a new Dean is selected and hired and assumes the role on campus.

Dean Oppenheimer attended University of California, Berkeley from 1966 to 1968 and earned his Doctor of Pharmacy degree from University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) in 1972. He completed a postgraduate residency in clinical pharmacy at UCSF in 1973 and immediately began his academic career at University of Southern California (USC) School of Pharmacy. During his 24 year tenure at USC, he held several administrative appointments including Director of Continuing Education, Associate Dean of Professional and Student Affairs, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, and Director of Graduate Programs. In 1997, Dean Oppenheimer was appointed Professor and Dean of the Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences where he oversees six programs: Doctor of Pharmacy and Pre-Pharmacy Advantage programs, Pharmaceutical and Chemical Sciences Master’s and Doctorate programs, Doctor of Physical Therapy, Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Speech-Language Pathology, Master’s Degree in Athletic Training, and Doctor of Audiology.

Among his many outstanding accomplishments at Pacific, Dean Oppenheimer has transformed the School into a robust health sciences campus with all programs receiving full accreditation and positive revenue through enrollment and fundraising. Together with his team at Pacific, he has been involved in garnering over $50 Million in donation funds for programs, scholarships, facilities, research, and new initiatives which have transformed the School and the University beyond measure. Funding has resulted in an increase in endowed and immediate need scholarships, facility enhancement, program support, and the securing of valuable equipment for research programs. He has increased the School’s budget by $11,783,800, increased the faculty from 56 to 76, and increased support staff from 19.8 to 36. Additionally, he helped raise funds to build the University’s biology building, renovate and name a major residence hall, build and name a health sciences learning center with clinics, and name the School.

Dean Oppenheimer has led several programs through strategic planning in alignment with the University’s strategic plan, and has supported budget and curricular enhancements of all programs in the School. He has expanded the School’s award-winning experiential and co-curricular programs, raising the bar for pharmacy programs nationwide. An additional innovation is the development of the Chan Family Office of Academic Success and Instructional Support which provides students in the School with individualized strategies for academic, personal, and professional success.

Dean Oppenheimer has been an important University leader, serving as the chair of the search committees for the current Provost, Dean of McGeorge School of Law, and Dean of Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry. Additionally, he served on the search committees for the Vice President for Business and Finance, the Vice President for Advancement, and the Associate Vice President for Marketing and Communications. He also chaired the President’s Task Force on Budget and provided leadership for investigating new budget models and innovations in educational financing. His professional service includes many internal and external committees and advisory boards, and he recently chaired the California Pharmacy Leadership Council, whose makeup includes the deans of all pharmacy schools in the state as well as the CEOs of major pharmacy associations and the Board of Pharmacy.

He has contributed to the profession and the academy through his service on professional and academic boards, through numerous publications, research papers, professional presentations, and consultantships. Dean Oppenheimer has served the academy and the profession as a member of the American Pharmacists Association; California Pharmacists Association (President, 1992) and local affiliates; American Society of Health-System Pharmacists; California Society of Health-System Pharmacists and local affiliates; and the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy.

He is the recipient of the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists Foundation’s Research in Practice Award, California Legislator Leadership Award, and the National Community Pharmacists Association Leadership Award. He was named Pharmacist of the Year by the California Pharmacists Association in 2004 and received the Dean’s Recognition Award from the American College of Apothecaries in 2005.  In 2014, Dean Oppenheimer was selected as the American Pharmacists Association-Academy of Student Pharmacists (APhA-ASP) Most Outstanding Dean of the Year for his contributions to the APhA-ASP Chapter and active promotion of student welfare through various community service, leadership and professional activities. Dean Oppenheimer was also named University of California, San Francisco Alumni Excellence Award in 2015 and the California Society of Health-System Pharmacists-Central Valley Pharmacists of the Year in 2016. In 2017, he was inducted into the California Pharmacists Association Hall of Fame in recognition of his inspiration, distinguished service and innovative contributions to the practice of pharmacy in California. Dean Oppenheimer is recognized as an experienced, outstanding and innovative leader throughout the state and the nation. He has directly impacted the education and success of over 12,000 health sciences alumni, hundreds of faculty and staff, and innumerable administrators in his 46-year career.

As Dean Oppenheimer embarks on his retirement, he will spend more time with his wife Teri and his family. The pharmacy community and University of the Pacific salute his stellar career, dedication to students and the health programs he led, and his commitment to excellence. He has left an indelible mark on the academy and the health profession. His legacy of doing “what is best for the students and patients, what is best for the school and university, and what is best for the professions” will live on through those he mentored and influenced over his remarkable career.

Dean Oppenheimer’s Accomplishments

Phillip R. Oppenheimer was named Dean.

The Department of Communicative Disorders, which was renamed the Department of Speech-Language Pathology, became a part of the School of Pharmacy. The Department established a partnership with the local Scottish Rite, which has provided additional training space for students and dramatically increased the number of patients who can be seen at the Scottish Rite Childhood Language Disorders Center.

The School transitioned the master of science in physical therapy degree to a doctor of physical therapy degree. The first class graduated in the fall.

Dean Oppenheimer’s leadership resulted in the construction of the Health Sciences Learning Center and Clinics, which was later renamed the Chan Family Health Sciences Learning Center and Clinics, reflecting the Chan Family’s many contributions. It provided much needed classroom, lecture and clinical space for all academic programs.

Dean Oppenheimer was named the California Pharmacists Association Pharmacist of the Year.

Under Dean Oppenheimer’s leadership, with support from the Hedco Foundation, the Hedco Audiology Suite was established on the Stockton campus. Thanks to the generosity of Rite Aid Corporation, the School established the Rite Aid Information Commons to provide a health sciences library for pharmacy and health sciences students.

Dean Oppenheimer was named the American College of Apothecaries Dean of the Year.

Alumni funding supported the renovation of the dispensing labs in the Edward and Alice Long Memorial Hall and named the pharmaceutical care labs for Professor Emeritus Donald Y. Barker, PhD who, during his tenure at Pacific from 1955 to 1989, taught and mentored thousands of pharmacists.

Rajul Patel ’01, ’06, PharmD, PhD spearheaded the Medicare Part D Outreach Clinics to help beneficiaries evaluate their options and select a plan to save money on their medications. As of 2018, students have volunteered more than 20,000 hours and assisted more than 8,600 beneficiaries with their Medicare Part D plans, saving consumers more than $8 million on potential out-of-pocket prescription drug costs.

With generous support from ScriptPro, the ScriptPro SP2000 equipment was donated to the Barker Lab, enhancing technology and education for the doctor of pharmacy program.

The School launched the combined master of science in pharmaceutical and chemical sciences and fellowship in pharmacy practice. The School also instituted the bachelor of applied science degree.

Dean Oppenheimer was selected as the American Pharmacists Association-Academy of Student Pharmacists (APhA-ASP) Most Outstanding Dean of the Year for his contributions to the Pacific APhA-ASP Chapter and active promotion of student welfare through various community service, leadership and professional activities.

Dean Oppenheimer’s leadership resulted in funds to refurbish Brookside Hall, which was renamed Chan Family Hall.

Dean Oppenheimer was named a recipient of the University of California, San Francisco Alumni Excellence Award.

The Audiology Clinic on the San Francisco campus began treating patients, providing audiology and hearing aid services through patient visits and community outreach events. The inaugural White Coat Ceremony marked the launch of the doctor of audiology program.

Under Dean Oppenheimer’s leadership, the Chan Family Office of Academic Success and Instructional Support was launched. It provides students in the School with individualized strategies for academic, personal and professional success.

Pacific’s doctor of pharmacy program received full eight-year accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education.

Dean Oppenheimer was named the California Society of Health-System Pharmacists-Central Valley Pharmacist of the Year.

Dean Oppenheimer was inducted into the California Pharmacists Association Hall of Fame. Thanks to the generosity of the Joseph and Vera Long Foundation and the Chan family, the School was able to renovate the second floor of the Chan Family Health Sciences Learning Center and Clinics (following the relocation of dental hygiene to the San Francisco campus) to include three high-tech large classrooms, a quiet study area, several conference rooms, a telehealth center, 19 faculty offices and a pharmacy care clinic space.

The School secured a significant gift from the Chan Family to support the renovation of the Rotunda building, including the construction of new exterior ADA-compliant and gender-inclusive restrooms.

Regent Clark and Pamela Gustafson provided significant funding to support student scholarship, community outreach programs and sustainability for the School and the University.

Student Spotlight: Stephanie Nguyen ’20

Stephanie Nguyen ’20 dreamed about coming to Pacific since the sixth grade. She was inspired by her cousin, Lien Tran ’01, PharmD. “I recently completed the undergraduate portion of the 3+3 Pre-Pharmacy program and I’m excited to begin pharmacy school in Fall 2017,” said Nguyen. “In my three years at Pacific, I’ve really grown as an individual and professional.”

“The Pre-Pharmacy Advantage Program is a wonderful opportunity for driven high school students who absolutely know that they want to be pharmacists,” Nguyen said. “Priority admission to a top-ranked accelerated pharmacy school is a major perk of the program! I also enjoy the fact that undergraduate and graduate years are spent at the same university, allowing you the chance to build personal and professional connections from a very early time in your college career.”

Since her first year at Pacific, Nguyen has been actively involved in student organizations. “Joining an organization on campus is a great way to find a family away from home,” Nguyen said. “I’ve been able to build strong friendships with other people with similar ambitions and goals while continuing to be myself, which has been a wonderful support system.”

“I am the current recording secretary of Lambda Kappa Sigma (LKS), one of the four professional pharmacy fraternities at Pacific. LKS is an international pharmacy fraternity that strives to provide lifelong opportunities for women in pharmacy through professional excellence and professional growth.

Joining a professional pharmacy fraternity has given me the chance to network with pharmacists and participate in health fairs.”

Nguyen also gained valuable leadership experience as a human physiology teaching assistant for Tara Thiemann, PhD, assistant professor of biological sciences.

A self-proclaimed foodie, she documents her epicurean adventures on Instagram. Warm and welcoming, Nguyen shared, “I’m always up to bring another on a food adventure.” She also loves being in choir and has been involved in the Conservatory of Music’s choral program. An alto, she has been a member of the University Chorus and the Oriana Women’s Chorus.


8 Things to Do During Your First Semester at Pacific

Jamie Legaspi ’18, Andy Szeto ’18, Michaela Vachuska ’18 and Milana Vachuska ’18 share their advice for getting the most out of your first semester at Pacific.

1) Get to you know your professors

Michaela Vachuska: “They are an incredibly helpful resource and will give you great advice if you find yourself struggling.”

Milana Vachuska: “The faculty here at Pacific are friendly, available and dedicated to the success of their students. This became apparent to me after my first tour of this campus. Not only are they super friendly and hilarious, but they can also help you through more difficult concepts. While it might seem intimidating at first, I promise it will be worth it.”

2) Get to know yourself

Milana Vachuska: “Get involved, attend speaker events and establish a routine that works for you. There is no ‘cookie-cutter’ approach […] you are going to have to adapt!”

3) Go to class

Szeto: “The first step in learning the material is to expose yourself to it. Repeated exposure helps cement concepts in your mind.”

Milana Vachuska: “I find that for every hour I spend being attentive in class, I save about three hours of toiling over the material. Don’t skip class, it’s a trap!”

4) Relax

Legaspi: “Find what makes helps you de-stress. Give yourself a time to relax and enjoy things you love to do.”

Szeto: “School, leadership and community service are important, so is taking time for yourself. Make sure you don’t burn yourself out and remind yourself that you deserve to unwind once in a while. The key to success is balance, everything in moderation.”

Michaela Vachuska: “My friends have ‘casual Fridays’ where we just hang out, socialize, eat and watch TV. It was always a great way to de-stress so I could be as productive as possible over the weekend!”

5) Stay positive

Michaela Vachuska: “It is important to celebrate your successes and learn from your failures. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to be perfect!”

Milana Vachuska: “Being in the company of good friends helps me to keep a positive attitude during stressful or draining times.”

6) Join a student organization

Legaspi: “Don’t be afraid to take risks when it comes to joining clubs and organizations. On the other hand, only go for something if you have a passion for it, rather than doing it just to fluff up your resume.”

7) Use a calendar

Szeto: “With the plethora of organizations, committees and other extracurricular activities on top of academics, it is very easy to be overwhelmed. Put everything into an accessible planner to ensure you don’t miss any appointments and have ample time to prepare for projects or events.”

8) Dress professionally

Michaela Vachuska: “While it is not required, it could be helpful in making an impression while you are still new to campus!”



Celebrating 60 Years of Excellence

As we celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, we’re reminded of all we have accomplished over the years. In the past year –– our faculty, students and alumni were once again recognized for their excellence with scholarships, grants and so much more. See for yourself, just click below…

Celebrate 60 Blog Image

Season’s Greetings!

To Our Pacific Pharmacy and Health Sciences Family,

As we celebrate the holiday season, we’re reminded of all we have accomplished over the past year. Throughout 2015 – the 60th anniversary of the Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences – our faculty, students and alumni continued to be recognized with scholarships, grants and so much more. We’ve wrapped the year together for you, just click below…

Season's Greetings