Committee hopes to have new pharmacy dean by April


Randy Juhl, former dean of Pitt’s School of Pharmacy, had some words of advice for those nervous about the first dean transition in the school in nearly 20 years.

“Believe me, the process works,” Juhl said Nov. 30 at the first of two virtual town halls to discuss what qualities to look for in a new dean. “By the time next spring rolls around, I think we’ll be doing just fine.”

Juhl served as dean from 1986 to 2002. His successor, Patricia Kroboth, will step down as leader of the school on June 30, 2022, she announced in September.

Steven Reis, director of the Clinical and Translational Science Institute, chairs the search committee, which also includes students and professors in the pharmacy school, along with others. The search firm Isaacson, Miller also is helping with the process.

The committee is currently seeking stakeholder input and creating the job description, Reis said. There will be a second open forum at 3 p.m. Dec. 17 (link to the forum through the University calendar), and people will be able to comment through a webpage that will launch soon on the School of Pharmacy website.

“Our goal is to identify candidates in January and February,” Reis said. “We will screen their applications and invite eight to 12 selected candidates for first interviews in February.”

From those candidates, the committee will submit three to five names to Anantha Shekhar, senior vice chancellor for health sciences, and then he will select candidates for second interviews. “We anticipate that a new dean could be named by the end of April,” Reis said.

Juhl said it’s highly unusual for a school to go 20 years “on a upward trajectory with one dean, and we’ve been very fortunate to have had that happen. But now when it comes time to choose a new dean, it’s a little scary for all of us, because we all have an attachment and an affection for the school that we want to see continue and so we want to make sure this happens in the right way.”

He also said the new dean needs to be someone who can represent the school with many different constituents.

Some of the other areas the new dean needs to focus on, according to those at the town hall, are:

  • The connections within the health science schools and to other parts of the University. “We definitely are fueled by having relationships across our campus,” said Melissa McGivney, associate dean for community partnerships and professor of pharmacy and therapeutics. McGivney has led the University’s COVID-19 vaccination efforts.

  • Experiential learning opportunities locally, nationally and internationally. Almost a quarter of Pitt Pharmacy students have the chance travel internationally for learning opportunities, said Susan J. Skledar, director of experiential learning and a professor of pharmacy and therapeutics. “That compares to about 7 percent across the country. That’s probably one of our biggest attributes of our programs.” She also cited programs to send students to culturally diverse areas in the U.S., including with the Indian Health Service.

  • Continued growth of scholarly activity, such as journal editing or being a reviewer for an NIH study section, among faculty, which are reputation drivers for the school, said Wen Xie, chair of the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences

  • Training of students in telemedicine, telehealth, entrepreneurship and innovation. Amy Seybert, chair of pharmacy and therapeutics, said the school also has a big opportunity to be a leader in interprofessional education.

  • Strategizing and using data to inform some of its approaches. One area that Mario Browne, associate dean for equity, engagement and justice in the school, said he is really concerned about is the negative trend of men applying to graduate and doctoral programs, “specifically underrepresented minority male students.”

Susan Jones is editor of the University Times. Reach her at or 724-244-4042.


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