Drake University has named John R. “Jack” Ellis, PH’57, retired director of Abbott Laboratories, as the 2011 recipient of the Lawrence C. and Delores M. Weaver Medal of Honor.
Ellis, of Lake Barrington, Ill., will receive the award and deliver the annual Weaver Lecture on Wednesday, April 27. The ceremony will be held at 2 p.m. in Sheslow Auditorium, Old Main, 2507 University Ave. A reception will follow from 3:15 to 4:30 p.m. in the Cowles Library Reading Room, 2725 University Ave. The events are free and open to the public.
The award is the highest honor presented by Drake's College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences and recognizes Ellis's dedication to the pharmacy profession as an advocate for advancing research practices to benefit human health, as well as his philanthropic support of the University’s pharmacy program.
Presented annually, the Weaver Medal of Honor was established by Lawrence Weaver, a 1949 pharmacy graduate and dean emeritus of the University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy, and his wife, Delores.
“This medal is a lasting gift and one of great significance to the future success of the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences,” Ellis said. “It provides a venue for alumni to examine how we have used the assets we acquired here at Drake to mold ourselves into productive professionals.”
In his lecture, titled "How to Plant a Tree," Ellis will discuss the value of a pharmacy degree, a strong work ethic and a commitment to philanthropy.
He will also acknowledge the impact of mentorship, citing retired Dean of the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences and fellow Weaver Medal recipient C. Boyd Granberg as “the epitome” of integrity and professionalism. Granberg served on Drake’s faculty from 1950 to 1984.
Ellis was instrumental in efforts to honor Granberg through the establishment of the Granberg Professional Leadership Award. The award is presented annually to a faculty member who demonstrates sustained and significant leadership in professional organizations and inspires students toward professional involvement.
Ellis family gives back to Drake to ensure the advancement of professional pharmacy
In 2006, Jack Ellis and his wife, Audrey, pledged $1.5 million to Drake to fund an endowed faculty chair in the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. The inaugural John R. Ellis Distinguished Chair of Pharmacy Practice was awarded in 2007, and the title is currently held by John Rovers.
"I received a tremendous education at Drake and the faculty helped me form my professional work ethic," Ellis said at the time. "We wanted to make a gift to enhance the education of pharmacy students, so that they can make a difference in the profession. An endowed chair is a stable, lasting gift that will keep on giving."
In October 2010, the Ellis family committed $500,000 to renovate a pharmacy laboratory and to create a new, state-of-the-art space for the growing field of study in pharmacogenomics, also known as personalized medicine.
Ellis and his wife also have established a charitable remainder trust for Drake and make annual donations to the University at the President’s Circle level. Two of their children, John, JO'82, and Barbara, BN'77, are Drake graduates.
Following his graduation from Drake in 1957, Ellis began his career at global healthcare company Abbott Laboratory, conducting research and development. In 1969, he became a diplomate of Lake Forest School of Management.
Ellis was named manager of Abbott’s pharmaceutical operations in 1979 and, in 1985, he was promoted to director of Abbott Park Operations Pharmaceutical Division. After 35 years with Abbott, he retired in 1992.
— Stella Hart