Letter from the Dean
Dear alumni and friends,
As the new dean of the U-M College of Pharmacy, I am committed to listening and learning from our students, faculty, staff, and alumni. While there is still work to be done, one thing is clear: this is the best college at the University of Michigan, and I am proud to be working with you all.
During this listening tour, several questions for me arose and other questions came through social media channels. I answer a few of the most common below.
Vicki L. Ellingrod, PharmD, FCCP, FACNP (She/Her)
Dean and John Gideon Searle Professor of Clinical and Translational Pharmacy, College of Pharmacy
Professor of Psychiatry and Adjunct Professor of Psychology
Associate Director, Michigan Institute for Clinical and Health Research (MICHR) and Director of the Education and Mentoring Group
Why did you want to be dean of the U-M College of Pharmacy?
When I considered leaving Iowa to join the faculty at the College of Pharmacy, I talked to a lot of people about that decision. One thing that I heard over and over was “U-M will change your life.” I didn’t completely understand what they meant at the time. Having been here for 16 years, I now get it. This is an amazing university in so many ways and being part of the academic leadership gives me a chance to change lives. As dean, I can help ensure the College remains a place that will change and enrich the lives of our faculty, staff, and students, as well as the world!
What do you want the College community to know about you?
While I am passionate about pharmacy, I work hard to have balance in my life. My life outside of pharmacy includes my husband of 24 years, two adult daughters and two rescue dogs (we have an affinity for older dogs, as we want to love them while we can). My husband and I enjoy bike rides, hiking, and traveling. We recently visited my oldest daughter in Germany while she is doing a study abroad program. I’m also fortunate that my mother lives in town and enjoy spending time with her. (she’s even a community partner for some of our students). My mother taught me the value of giving back to the community in which you live. I often look to her and her values when making decisions in my life.
What career and personal experiences informed your leadership style?
My first job in pharmacy – it was an independent pharmacy owned by a female pharmacist. I was 15 and this woman had a substantial impact on me. I watched how she ran her business, how much she cared about the welfare of all her employees and customers – regardless of how the business was doing.
I have had many wonderful mentors over the years who encouraged me to aim high and work to position myself for my next step, really think about my career goals and how to achieve them. There were also some not-so-great mentors over the years, and I also learned from those experiences.
In the end I believe that as a leader it is important to support your professional community and provide them with an environment in which they can thrive. I will strive to do this as dean by garnering resources for the College and will work to amplify our greatness in every aspect while fulfilling our closely held values.
You are surprised with a week's vacation, where do you go?
Picking one location is impossible! This is when I need a time machine that would enable me to travel to every country in the world. I love traveling and experiencing different cultures. My dream travel list currently includes all of our national parks, Alaska, South Africa, Egypt, and the Maldives. I think learning about others' viewpoints and experiences is vital – it is our differences that make life rich.
What do you think is the biggest challenge students are currently facing?
Mental health is a growing challenge. I see some students and even my own young adult children struggling to connect with others and develop a sense of belonging in this social media “best selves” world. As a trained mental health pharmacist, I understand the importance of effective mental health treatments, whether it be pharmacotherapy or counseling and peer support. Other challenges include financial stability and student debt with the rising cost of education, climate change and the lack of universal health care. These issues can have significant implications for our students and their future.
We can’t take on the entirety of every challenge, recognizing that they are very real and that we need networks in place to alleviate financial, emotional, and mental stressors. While we have a generous scholarship program and mental wellness programs in place, I believe there is always an opportunity to do more. I want to make sure that every student we enroll, feels like they belong and that they can be their best self because of us.
What changes do you see for the College in the near future?
In the very near future our biggest change will be moving into our new building! While we are excited about this (truly a “game changer” for us), it will be a disruption and will come with challenges.
I hope to expand and strengthen our partnership with industry, other schools and colleges, and the community around us so that we can increase our impact across the state, the nation, and the world. My vision is for the University of Michigan College of Pharmacy to be the best in the nation. To get there, we will have to work together as a college community – our students, faculty, staff, and alumni!
What will not change is the pride that we all feel about the College– our leadership in education, research, and service. We are small by design, and I also don’t plan on changing that because it is part of what makes us so great.