Former Dean Gets National Honor for ‘Shaping’ the Pharmacy Profession

Barbara G. Wells receives ACCP's 2012 Parker Medal

OXFORD, Miss. – The American College of Clinical Pharmacy has selected Barbara G. Wells, professor and dean emeritus of the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy, as its 2012 Paul F. Parker Medalist and will honor her Oct. 21, during the opening session of its annual meeting in Hollywood, Fla.

Wells was nominated for the Parker Medal because of her commitment to developing leaders within the pharmacy profession. Named for one of clinical pharmacy’s most influential proponents, the Parker Medal recognizes those who have helped improve or expand the pharmacy profession, said ACCP Executive Director Michael S. Maddux.

“I can think of no individual more deserving of the Parker Medal than (Wells),” Maddux said.

The Parker Medal Selection Committee said that Wells has served as “an inspiring pharmacy practitioner, educator, mentor, administrator, advocate and leader,” and that her “servant leadership within a host of major pharmacy organizations … is testimony to her amazing skill and commitment to shaping the pharmacy profession.”

“I believe this will be (her) greatest legacy,” said Stephanie J. Phelps, the University of Tennessee Health Science Center’s associate dean of academic affairs and professor of clinical pharmacy and pediatrics. “Her heart for the personal and professional development of those she trained and worked with is always evident. She has been an important role model for hundreds, perhaps thousands of pharmacists and student pharmacists.”

Among them is Leigh Ann Ross, UM associate dean for clinical affairs and chair of pharmacy practice.

“Her door was always open, and she was always ready to provide good counsel,” Ross said. “She cares about people, and she is driven to help people be successful.

“Within the profession, national pharmacy organizations and other pharmacy schools, she is known for her leadership and mentoring of young people, residents, junior faculty and other deans. The emphasis she places on mentorship and her own personal experience in developing future leaders will impact pharmacy for years to come.”

Wells also is a role model for women, because she was one of the first women to serve as department chair in a U.S. pharmacy school and the third woman appointed dean in a pharmacy college in the continental U.S., Ross said.

Wells was on the UT Health Science Center faculty, chair of pharmacy practice at Samford University and dean of pharmacy at Idaho State University before becoming dean at Ole Miss. She was elected 2002-03 president of the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy and 2004-05 president of ACCP. While AACP president, she developed a leadership agenda which spawned the Academic Leadership Fellows Program, or ALFP, which recently graduated its seventh class.

Stephen Cutler, UM chair of medicinal chemistry, is an ALFP graduate, as are some 200 other researchers, educators and administrators scattered across the country. They include leaders in national pharmacy organizations and schools of pharmacy “who are transforming pharmaceutical education across the country,” Cutler said.

Because of ALFP, Wells “has left a giant genetic footprint on pharmacy education in this country,” Cutler said. “Of all the people in pharmacy education today, she is one of only a handful who carries the greatest esteem and influence.”

While president of AACP and ACCP, Wells made developing leaders within the organizations a strong part of her agenda, said Joseph DiPiro, executive dean of the South Carolina College of Pharmacy.

“Two words that have characterized Dr. Wells for many years are ‘mentorship’ and ‘leadership,'” DiPiro said. “Dr. Wells is a mentor to many people in pharmacy education, senior as well as junior, and has always been very vocal about the need to promote mentorship in our academy. She is one of the best examples I have seen of a caring mentor … and has often spoken on this topic.”

She will do so again, because she has been invited to make “professionally challenging” comments during her acceptance speech. They will be published in the ACCP Report so others can benefit from her experience and expertise, Maddux said.

Wells became UM’s pharmacy dean in summer 2001. Under her leadership, the pharmacy school’s clinical pharmacy program became one of the country’s best, and all its programs became more nationally and internationally prominent.

“She took a very strong pharmacy practice program and – with her great vision and leadership in pharmacy education – brought it to new heights,” said Larry Walker, director of the school’s National Center for Natural Products Research. “She is so well respected in leadership circles in pharmacy, and she has helped so many faculty members realize their potential in those circles. I think her general aura of professional leadership and recognition around the country helped lift this school’s recognition to the top.”

Wells’ many other honors and awards include the American Pharmacists Association’s Gloria Niemeyer Francke Leadership Mentor Award, APhA’s Clinical Pharmacotherapeutic Practice Award, AACP’s Robert K. Chalmers Distinguished Educator Award and ACCP’s Education Award. Elected a Fellow of ACCP, the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists and American Society of Consultant Pharmacists, she was inducted into the Academy of Pharmacy Practice of the National Academies of Practice.

Paul Parker (1919-1998) was at the University of Kentucky most of his career, said UM Pharmacy Dean David D. Allen.

“While I never met him, many of my most cherished advisers and friends were trained directly by him at Kentucky,” Allen said. “Each of them considers Paul the consummate mentor.

“I think Barbara Wells is viewed similarly by many in our profession. Throughout her career, she was always ready, willing and able to share her wisdom, vision and wealth of experience as a clinician, educator, researcher and administrator to improve pharmacy education, pharmacy practice and patient care. I am honored to follow in her footsteps here at the UM School of Pharmacy.”