Emily and Bruce Hancock stand on either side of his mother Garcia.
Wednesday, April 24, 2024

The FOE—Friends of Emily, for those not yet in the know—refer to Dr. Emily Hancock (PharmD ’92) as the EOF: Epicurean of Fun.

It’s a title she happily embraces, but it’s also a title that’s far from telling the whole story of who she is. Emily, the widow of former Purdue University College of Pharmacy Professor Bruce Hancock (BS ’75, MS ’77), says she grew up with a mother who could make even the most mundane tasks feel like a good time—a perspective Emily has held tight to even in the depths of unimaginable adversity.

Now, through a gift made during Purdue Day of Giving, Emily is honoring her late husband’s legacy by endowing the Bruce G. Hancock Rising Star Professorship to support the ongoing professional development of faculty, which is something Bruce was extremely passionate about.

“Back in the 1970s, Bruce subscribed to $750-worth of medical and pharmaceutical journals each year,” Emily said. “That was a lot of money at that time. Ongoing development was his passion. Bruce believed that to be an up-to-date educator, you can't have static ‘lesson plans’ because things are always changing. In addition to the current standards of practice in disease management, you have to know the advances in medical treatment, what new drugs are on the market, why they have been developed, their place in therapy and how to monitor treatment outcomes. He spent money to develop himself. This professorship will honor Bruce’s legacy while supporting faculty in their own development.”


Bruce Hancock was born and raised in Herrin, Illinois, the son and grandson of pharmacists. More than 500 miles to the north, Emily Cramer was growing up in Big Rapids, Michigan.

Their meeting would happen years later at Lansing, Michigan’s St. Lawrence Hospital—a meeting that might not have happened if Emily had followed her original plans of pursuing an engineering degree.

“I was all set to go to engineering school,” she said. “One day, I saw a flier on my high school bulletin board for a pharmacy career day at Ferris State University and I decided to go. I was entranced by the upperclassmen and their work as part of a drug education team that went to schools to talk about responsible medication use. I decided then that I was going into pharmacy, and I never looked back.”

For Bruce, a pharmacy education just made sense. His grandfather was a pharmacist, as was his mom. She worked in a drug store and as a chief hospital pharmacist. What wasn’t so clear-cut was Bruce’s educational path. After starting college at Southern Illinois University, Bruce transferred to Purdue—a decision that would change the trajectory of his life and Emily’s.

After graduating with a Bachelor of Pharmacy degree from Ferris State, Emily went to work as a hospital pharmacist at St. Lawrence—the very same hospital where Bruce would enter his hospital residency days later.

The two had a lot in common and, as they say, the rest is history. They were married November 26, 1977. That same year, Bruce joined the Purdue University pharmacy faculty and the two made their home in Indianapolis.


After 10 years serving on Purdue’s faculty, Bruce went on to a variety of other career roles, including clinical pharmacy administration at Wishard Health Services and St. Vincent Hospitals and Health Services, as well as serving as an assistant professor at Butler University’s College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. But the one thing that never changed throughout his career was his passion for developing faculty who could bring out the best in their students.

“Bruce believed that if you have developed faculty, you can draw some of the best students,” Emily said. “We need teachers who are ‘smart’ enough to capture students’ native intelligence, initiative, and creativity. I think this Rising Star will be that person.”

Bruce wasn’t the only one with a penchant for educating others. One day, while perusing a magazine in the waiting room of her dentist’s office, Emily saw a story about adults returning to college to further their education. She had the desire to teach but didn’t necessarily feel pulled toward the PhD path. Instead, she opted to earn her PharmD from Purdue—a milestone she reached in 1992. She’d later go on to earn a Master’s of Public Affairs with a concentration in public policy analysis from IUPUI in 2008.

Emily had been serving for years as the pharmacist-team member in the ambulatory care, multidisciplinary Geriatric Assessment Team within what was then known as the St. Vincent Institute on Aging. Shortly after completing her PharmD, hospital administration asked her to serve as interim director of the institute while they conducted a national search for a new director.

While interim, St. Vincent sent Emily to many classes, programs, and seminars to bolster her knowledge and experience in all things Medicare, practice management, and health services research. A year later, Emily was offered the director role full-time. Along with it, came the opportunity to teach medical and pharmacy students, interns and residents in a direct-practice environment—teaching mission accomplished.

Throughout her career, Emily has not only held teaching and clinical positions, but has served in a variety of roles for the State of Indiana, Family and Social Services Administration, Office of Medicaid Policy and Planning, including as director of long-term care, senior policy advisor, and clinical pharmacist in pharmacy benefit administration. Now retired, she continues to serve on the Ferris Foundation Board of Directors.


In spring 2011, Emily said she kept feeling like change was on the horizon. With the phrase, “all things new,” continuously looming in her mind, she thought maybe some simple changes were ahead.

“I assumed it was time for the Hancocks to downsize and begin parting with our antiques, which were a consequence of being ‘unsupervised’ antique collectors for over 30 years,” she said with a laugh. “I was also seeking more work-life balance and considering pursuing a different position.”

She had no idea what was actually ahead.

Emily and Bruce made a trek to Michigan to assess storm damage to their lake cottage. While there, the duo received a phone call that their home in Indianapolis was on fire—the product of a lightning strike from the same storm system that had ransacked the lake cottage 48 hours before.

While living in a hotel and in the throes of insurance claims and contractors, Bruce went in for a routine medical procedure that uncovered an unrelated issue. By January 19, 2012, he was gone.

Shortly after Bruce’s passing, Emily lost vision in one of her eyes and had extensive emergency surgery to correct it. As she was nearing the end of a very difficult recovery, routine testing revealed breast cancer.

“I had destruction at my cottage, complete devastation of our home, my husband died, I lost my vision in my eye, and then I was diagnosed with breast cancer,” Emily said. “What happens there is you eventually develop an attitude of, ‘Bring it on! You think you can take me down? You can’t!”

She credits her faith and her lifelong friends for carrying her through that season of her life.

Now, more than10 years post-cancer diagnosis and with her vision mostly in-tact, Emily continues to approach life with that same zeal and with her sense of humor in tow.

What might be most amazing of all is the way she has overcome so much adversity and still maintained such a deep commitment to giving back to others.


As Emily’s estate planning has evolved over the years, she has always known she wanted education at the forefront of her and Bruce’s legacy. One piece of that puzzle is her commitments to Purdue.

In addition to endowing the Bruce G. Hancock Rising Star Professorship, she also founded the Bruce G. Hancock Scholarship Endowment alongside her mother-in-law, M. Garcia Waggener Hancock. She credits the efforts of Purdue for Life Foundation’s Pharmacy Advancement Team for assisting her in finding meaningful ways to give back that honor Bruce and align with their shared passions.

“Not only did Bruce and I earn Purdue degrees, but so did my mother-in-law,” Emily said. “Bruce began his career at Purdue, and the university is a valuable piece of how we met. What drove Bruce was developing faculty, and he had a vision for education for all. That’s also what drives me now. This endowment is a culmination of that passion.”


If you wish to find a meaningful way to create your own legacy story in the College of Pharmacy, please reach out to Travis Smith or Carrie Bright to begin the conversation.


Photo caption: Emily and Bruce Hancock stand with Bruce's mom, Garcia Hancock (submitted by Emily Hancock)