Contact Us

Brooklyn Campus Increases Humanitarian Efforts in Sierra Leone Through Santander Universities Grant

Business and Pharmacy Schools Join Nursing School in Helping African Country Improve its Devastated Health Services


Alka Gupta,Assistant Director of Public Relations
Brooklyn Campus,
Long Island University
(718) 780-4137

Brooklyn, N.Y. – Long Island University’s Brooklyn Campus is boosting its ongoing relief efforts in the impoverished African nation of Sierra Leone with two new initiatives spearheaded by the institution’s business and pharmacy schools.

Students this fall will visit Sierra Leone with Mohammed Ghriga, dean of the Campus’ School of Business, Public Administration and Information Sciences, to help determine ways to improve the efficiency of health services in Sierra Leone.

And this past June, Suzanna Gim, an assistant professor, and two students with the Arnold & Marie Schwartz College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences spent two weeks in Sierra Leone studying the country’s pharmacy practices, in hopes of developing a partnership with the country’s only pharmacy college.

The business school’s effort will be funded by an annual grant through Santander Universities Global Division in the USA, an initiative through Banco Santander and Sovereign Bank that supports higher education.

“We are providing life-saving services to a nation where hospitals are few and where the people cannot afford medication,” Brooklyn Campus Provost Gale Stevens Haynes said. “Our involvement in Sierra Leone is borne of our commitment to lead initiatives that serve local and global communities and educate our students.”

For three years, School of Nursing Dean Dawn Kilts, in partnership with the non-profit Sa Leone Health Pride, Inc., has taken a delegation of professors and students to Sierra Leone to provide educational and humanitarian aid to women and children. The group visits hospitals, delivers medical supplies and teaches seminars for local nurses.

Still suffering from the effects of a 10-year civil war that ended in 2002, Sierra Leone is one of the world’s poorest countries. In Sierra Leone, according to the United Nations: 

  • A pregnant women’s chance of dying in childbirth is 1 in 8.
  • The life expectancy is 47. 
  • Three-quarters of the nation’s population live in poverty.

For conditions to improve in Sierra Leone, simple health care measures, such as education, vaccinations and supplements, must be integrated at the local level, said Dean Ghriga.

“Thanks to the generous support of Santander Universities through Sovereign Bank, we hope to engage our students to develop sustainable solutions to health, wellness and poverty issues in Sierra Leone,” Dean Ghriga said.

Santander Universities, the backbone of Banco Santander’s social action, supports the higher education sector in such areas as teaching and research, international cooperation, knowledge and technology transfer, entrepreneurial initiatives, student mobility and innovation. The program has agreements with more than 800 top schools worldwide, including Long Island University. It was introduced in the United States in 2009 through Sovereign Bank, a subsidiary of Banco Santander.

“The program aligns with our commitment to corporate social responsibility and higher education,” said Eduardo Garrido, Director of Santander Universities, U.S. “Santander Universities is proud to support this unique, international humanitarian effort that is sustained by the strength and talent of Long Island University’s nursing school.”

(For more information on Santander Univerisities, contact Ellen Molle with Sovereign Bank at (617) 757-5573 or

Dean Ghriga explained that the business school will team with the School of Nursing and Sa Leone Health Pride, Inc., to lower infant and maternal mortality in Sierra Leone. The partnership will give Brooklyn Campus students and faculty access to Sa Leone Health Pride’s primary contacts in hospitals, clinics, government agencies and universities.

The project will analyze health services in hospitals and clinics; identify the impact of socioeconomic factors; develop entrepreneurial strategies; and pursue opportunities to include educational forums to build human entrepreneurial capital.
The purpose of the pharmacy school’s trip to Sierra Leone — which was funded by the Stephen M. Gross Fund for Pharmacy Policy and Program Development — was to expose two fifth-year pharmacy students to international public health issues and help Gim gather information and contacts to create a course for sixth-year students on international pharmacy practice issues.

During the two-week iLEAP (International Learning Activity for Pharmacy Students) program, the University’s pharmacy school students interviewed pharmacists and pharmacy students and attended pharmacy lectures to learn more about how the practice of pharmacy is carried out in Sierra Leone. There are only 350 pharmacy personnel in Sierra Leone (population: 6.5 million). So it is no surprise that although pharmacies are required to be registered with a licensed pharmacist, many are managed day-to-day by pharmacy technicians and other non-trained staff.

“I am used to a counting tray, a spatula, vials [and] and thinking about the type of cap the patient needs,” pharmacy student Victoria Rupp wrote in her journal. “Here [in Sierra Leone], none of these are a concern. {Medications] are counted with a spoon and placed into plastic bags.”

The Brooklyn Campus is distinguished by...
dynamic curricula reflecting the great urban community it serves. Distinctive programs encompass the arts and media, the natural sciences, business, social policy, urban education, the health professions and pharmacy, and include the Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology, the Ph.D. in Pharmaceutics, the D.P.T. in Physical Therapy and the Pharm.D. in Pharmacy. A vibrant urban oasis in downtown Brooklyn, this diverse and thriving campus offers academic excellence, personalized attention, small class size and flexible course schedules. In 2006, a $45-million Wellness, Recreation and Athletic Center was opened to serve the Campus and the surrounding community. In 2007, the Cyber Café was launched, providing a high-tech hot spot for students and faculty members to meet and eat.

About Banco Santander
Banco Santander (SAN.MC, STD.N, BNC.LN) is a retail and commercial bank, headquartered in Spain. Founded in 1857, Santander had EUR 1,365 billion in managed funds for the first half of 2010. Santander has more than 92 million customers, approximately 14,000 branches – more than any other international bank – and 170,000 employees. It is the largest financial group in Spain and Latin America, with leading positions in the United Kingdom and Portugal and a broad presence in Europe through its Santander Consumer Finance arm. For more information on Santander, visit

Sovereign Bank, a subsidiary of Banco Santander, S.A., is a financial institution with principal markets in the northeastern United States. Sovereign has more than 700 branches, over 2,300 ATMs and approximately 8,000 team members. For more information on Sovereign Bank, visit or call 877-SOV-BANK.

About Santander Universities
Banco Santander’s commitment to progress finds its expression in the Santander Universities Global Division, whose activities form the backbone of the bank’s social action and enable it to maintain a stable alliance with the academic world in Latin America, China, USA, Spain, Morocco, Portugal, United Kingdom, and the Russia.

Santander Universities Global Division is the channel through which Banco Santander supports the higher education sector in these countries in such areas as teaching and research, international cooperation, knowledge and technology transfer, entrepreneurial initiatives, student mobility and innovation. Santander Universities initiatives include:

  • the granting of over 14,000 scholarships a year to promote study, research and initial professional work experience and bursaries to facilitate student and staff mobility between universities in the network.
  • the issue of almost four million university smart cards in more than 200 universities, with a high level of functional and financial features for teachers and students.
  • support for two major global projects: the ‘Miguel de Cervantes Virtual Library’ (, the largest of its kind for Hispanic works; and Universia (, the biggest university co-operation network in the world, that includes 1,169 universities in 23 countries. More than 1.000 universities attended the Second International Meeting of Universia Presidents took place in Guadalajara, Mexico, on 31 May - 1 June this year. The meeting was backed by Banco Santander, through the Santander Universities Global Division.

Posted 08/05/2010

  Return to Press Releases