The University of Arizona

Pharmacy Industry Leader, UA Alumnus Earns Achievement Award

By Rebecca Ruiz-McGill, University Communications | May 9, 2012

Charles V. Burnett, senior vice president of pharmacy operations for Costco Wholesale Corp., will receive his award during the UA’s Graduate Commencement Ceremony on May 11.

Pharmacy industry leader and devoted philanthropist Charles V. Burnett, photographed here with his wife, Barbara, will be honored with the UA Alumni Association Alumni Achievement Award during the UA Graduate Commencement Ceremony on May 11. (Photo credit: Margaret Hartshorn/BioCommunications/Arizona Health Sciences Center)
Pharmacy industry leader and devoted philanthropist Charles V. Burnett, photographed here with his wife, Barbara, will be honored with the UA Alumni Association Alumni Achievement Award during the UA Graduate Commencement Ceremony on May 11. (Photo credit: Margaret Hartshorn/BioCommunications/Arizona Health Sciences Center)

Since 1943, the University of Arizona Alumni Association has presented accomplished alumni and friends with achievement awards. Joining the distinguished field of UA alumni awardees is pharmacy industry leader Charles V. Burnett, who will receive his award during the UA Graduate Commencement Ceremony on May 11. 

The UA Alumni Association and the College of Pharmacy will present the Alumni Achievement Award to honor Burnett for his lifetime accomplishments. The award is given to an alumnus or alumna who has attained prominence in his or her field of endeavor and demonstrated outstanding service to the UA. This is the highest honor the alumni association bestows upon alumni.

"Charles Burnett's professional accomplishments in the pharmaceutical industry and his commitment to philanthropy – both to the University of Arizona and the larger community – reflect the high ideals embodied in the Alumni Achievement Award. The UA Alumni Association is deeply honored to recognize Mr. Burnett, along with the UA College of Pharmacy, at the graduate commencement ceremonies, where members of the Wildcat for Life family can share in the celebration of Mr. Burnett's achievements and their own future dreams and goals," said Melinda Burke, president and executive director of the UA Alumni Association.

Burnett is a 1959 alumnus of the UA College of Pharmacy and is senior vice president of pharmacy operations for Costco Wholesale Corp. Praised by co-workers and friends alike for his ethical character and compassionate nature, Burnett has balanced personal success with service and philanthropy throughout his long career.

He is a friend and supporter of the UA, sharing both his knowledge and financial resources. He served as a member of the UA College of Pharmacy's National Advisory Board for seven years and has supported the college with generous gifts of Costco stock and discretionary funds.

His philanthropy extends beyond campus as well. In 2004, he and his wife, Barbara, founded the non-profit organization Tessera to develop and sustain lifelong educational and residential opportunities for individuals with severe autism and other developmental disabilities.

Already a veteran of the U.S. Navy, he received a Bachelor of Science degree in pharmacy from the UA, and after graduation, he moved to San Diego and began his career as a staff pharmacist with a local chain pharmacy. During the 1970s, he rose to the level of vice president of pharmacy operations. Later, he owned and operated a local chain of pharmacies.

In 1986, the founders of Costco recruited Burnett to develop a pharmacy division for the fledgling company. The first pharmacy operation in a warehouse club-type store, Costco Pharmacy has since grown to more than 400 locations. He continues to run the successful division, delaying his retirement while the company expands its pharmacy business into key international markets.

In 2002, Costco Pharmacy was named Pharmacy Chain of the Year for its leadership role in disease management. In 2006, Costco presented Burnett with its Salmon Award for outstanding contributions to the success of the company. He has twice been honored by the National Association of Chain Drug Stores for his accomplishments and contributions to the industry – in 2007 with the Harold W. Pratt Award, its highest honor, and in 2010 with the Sheldon Fantle Lifetime Achievement Award, the only individual to receive both awards.

Said J. Lyle Bootman, dean of the UA College of Pharmacy: "On behalf of the College of Pharmacy, I am very proud of Charlie's legacy; he is a stellar role model for pharmacists everywhere and also exemplifies the best of University of Arizona alumni: loyal to his alma mater and generous with his time and resources."