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WesternU College of Pharmacy names classroom in honor of 986 Pharmacy and Dr. Ken Thai

by Rodney Tanaka

April 9, 2024

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Dr. Ken Thai, his wife, Dr. Aimee Thai, and their daughters Charlotte and Amelie, join WesternU dignitaries at the 986 Pharmacy Classroom dedication. (Jeff Malet, WesternU)

Western University of Health Sciences College of Pharmacy (COP) received a significant donation from 986 Pharmacy CEO and Co-founder Ken Thai, PharmD, APh, to name the current P1 pharmacy classroom the “986 Pharmacy Classroom.”

986 Pharmacy Co-founder and CEO Ken Thai, PharmD, APh, (left) and College of Pharmacy Dean Sunil Prabhu, BPharm, PhD, celebrate the dedication of the 986 Pharmacy Classroom. (Jeff Malet, WesternU)

WesternU held a dedication ceremony on April 4, 2024 to honor Dr. Ken Thai and his family for this generous gift. Dr. Thai’s generosity to WesternU dates back more than a decade and includes student awards through his foundation as well as recent large endowments to support community pharmacy practice initiatives. COP Dean Sunil Prabhu, BPharm, PhD, offered a toast to Dr. Thai and his family.

“Ken, in your relatively young career, you’ve made such tremendous success and we as a College are privileged that you have chosen us as a partner in your journey,” Prabhu said. “We are very grateful to you for your generosity and for your commitment to WesternU and our students, especially to the unwavering support that you have given them. We hope that we will be partners with you going forward, for many years.”

Left to right: Dr. Tony Chan, Dr. Ken Thai, Dr. Robin Farias-Eisner, and Dr. Sunil Prabhu. (Jeff Malet, WesternU)

Prabhu also acknowledged the contributions of Dr. Lilia Xu, PharmD, Vice President of Strategic Development of 986 Pharmacy and a member of the COP Dean’s Advisory Council, and COP alumnus Dr. Kevin Mancilla, PharmD ’22, who is also with 986 Pharmacy.

The ribbon-cutting ceremony and reception included several of Thai’s family and 986 Pharmacy colleagues, COP students, staff and faculty, and WesternU dignitaries. WesternU President Robin Farias-Eisner, MD, PhD, MBA, told Thai the University is grateful to him.

“His pharmacy franchise serves as a platform for pharmacists to become independent pharmacy owners,” Farias-Eisner said. “That is an amazing service to society because that’s what it is all about – giving back and paying it forward, both directions, in order to help his colleagues. I am very impressed by that level of altruism and generosity.”

WesternU Board of Trustee member Tony Chan, PharmD, is also a pharmacist and entrepreneur. He has known Thai for more than 20 years, and described him as hardworking, dedicated and diligent.

“Philanthropic effort can really have a transformative impact on the lives of other people, support many worthy causes, and foster positive societal change,” Chan said. “This is what I really believe in. We should all get together and create this ripple effect that will make positive changes to all the younger generations. I want to thank Ken Thai, his wife, and his beautiful children for their generosity to support this program to make this school a successful one.”

WesternU Provost Paula Crone, DO ’92, speaks at the 986 Pharmacy Classroom dedication ceremony. (Jeff Malet, WesternU)

WesternU Provost Paula Crone, DO ’92, said Thai is a visionary leader whose unwavering support of the College of Pharmacy and WesternU has already made a big difference.

“The naming of this classroom serves as a testament to Dr. Thai’s enduring legacy toward the significant role he has played in shaping the future of pharmacy education. It also symbolizes the strong partnership between academia and industry and what it can do, and that’s exemplified by the company he cofounded, 986,” Crone said. “May this dedication ceremony inspire future generations of pharmacists and remind all of us of the profound impact that dedication, tenacity, generosity and collaboration can have on advancing education and health care.”

Dr. Ken Thai said he donated to WesternU to showcase and represent independent pharmacists and community pharmacists. (Jeff Malet, WesternU)

Thai, in his remarks, said that Chan and others like him who have donated generously motivated him to do the same.

“I don’t think anything I’m doing is great or new. I do feel that I’m paying forward those who paid forward before me,” Thai said. “I feel like we’re in turbulent times. A lot of folks, students especially, do not feel the same about independent community practice as they once did. The pride that we once showcased may not be as strong as it once was. And I really felt as a member of that community that we need to stand up for that. We need to do something to really show them that we’re alive and we’re thriving. You can still make it work. We can still do something special to allow the future generations of pharmacists to feel what we felt, to enjoy some of what we enjoyed, and to be where we are today.”

Thai said he felt humbled and a little embarrassed by this outpouring of admiration.

“I feel I am up here representing my team. It’s really the 986 independent pharmacists I’m standing before all of you representing,” he said.

This donation resulted from a desire to showcase and represent independent pharmacists and community pharmacists. Thai said he tells his team members – 986 Pharmacy is now 500 strong – that he has accomplished everything he ever dreamed, and they are an integral part of this process. Several of the 986 team are from WesternU, so the reason he supports the University is simple.

“You put me in a position where I had no choice because you brought talent, you brought the future in my hands,” Thai said. “You allowed them to be where they are today because they are living out the American dream because of what you’ve done as a school, as an institution, as a faculty. And as a beneficiary of that, from the standpoint of a practitioner and health care provider, I had to give back. You made me have no choice but to say thank you. What can I do to provide some type of giveback to the community and to the students that have impacted my life and provided what I have today? So I really need to thank you, all of you.”

Dr. Ken Thai with 986 Pharmacy team members who are also WesternU alumni. (Jeff Malet, WesternU)

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