17 years of progress

17 years of progress

College of Pharmacy dean to step down

By Linda Homewood

Photo by Sarah Kiewel

After 17 years as dean of the UF College of Pharmacy, William H. Riffee, Ph.D., will step down from his position at the end of the 2012-2013 academic year.

“When I first assumed leadership of the college, my goal was for the faculty to have ownership, working together and enjoying good company to build a top program,” Riffee said. “Looking back now, I have the satisfaction of knowing that my vision of ‘There’s no limit to what this college can accomplish’ was on the mark.”

The sixth dean in the college’s nearly 90-year history, Riffee came to UF after 21 years on the faculty of the College of Pharmacy at the University of Texas. His first priority at UF was to strengthen its Pharm.D. curriculum by implementing problem-based learning, based on his belief that what student pharmacists learn through their studies is only the beginning of their professional practice. In addition to preparing students, he strongly supported faculty development that allowed the college’s educators to expand their teaching methods beyond traditional approaches.

A pioneer in distance learning, Riffee implemented tele-education programs at multiple campuses at UT, then brought similar technologies to UF. That opened UF’s professional and graduate programs to students across the U.S. and the world. Such globalized programs include the Working Professional Pharm.D. program — the largest in the nation — and expanded master’s programs in forensic science, health policy, pharmaceutical chemistry, clinical toxicology, medication therapy management and clinical pharmacy. From 2001 to 2006, Riffee also served as UF associate provost for distance, continuing and executive education.

In 2002, Riffee expanded the reach of the College of Pharmacy by establishing three new campuses in Jacksonville, Orlando and St. Petersburg, to serve students in their home communities. In addition to enhancing educational opportunities for students, he also sought to improve the college’s physical facilities. During his tenure, a five-story pharmacy academic wing, which includes a clinical skills lab, was built in collaboration with the colleges of Public Health and Health Professions and Nursing in the shared Health Professions/Nursing/Pharmacy Complex. A new building also was erected on the St. Petersburg College campus and renovations were made at the Shands Jacksonville facility for Pharm.D. students. Renovations also were made to the seven-story pharmacy research wing of the UF Stetson Medical Sciences Building to accommodate graduate research activities under way at the UF Health Science Center.

UF’s pharmacy research program grew during Riffee’s tenure, too. Research revenues have grown from $4.9 million in 1997 to $9 million today.

In fall 2010, Riffee joined other UF leaders in breaking ground for the UF Research and Academic Center in Orlando at Lake Nona, which benefited from $3.5 million in College of Pharmacy resources. The campus will house the new Research Center for Pharmacometrics and serve as a home campus for UF Pharm.D. students in Orlando.

“Dr. Riffee’s service to the UF community in advancing pharmacy education and research is invaluable,” said David S. Guzick, M.D., Ph.D., senior vice president for health affairs and president of the UF&Shands Health System.

Riffee hailed his colleagues and students as partners who helped him as he led the college into the future.

“I could have never asked for a better group of faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends of the college,” Riffee said. “You all have done great things and have made me very proud to be associated with you.”