UH Hilo’s new interim dean of pharmacy college sets priorities

Miriam Mobley Smith is here to help UH Hilo’s pharmacy college transition between deans and envision the future.

Miriam Mobley Smith
Miriam Mobley Smith (Kirsten Aoyagi/UH Hilo Stories)

By Jordan Hemmerly.

The new interim dean at the Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy says she’s surprised at how quickly she’s adapted to her new environment since arriving Feb. 1.

“I’ve been able to hit the ground running,” says Miriam Mobley Smith, who after “retirement” from teaching and administration in 2015, opted to focus on her long-standing work with the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education as an educational consultant and site reviewer. From 2016-2017, she served as the director of strategic alliances for the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board.

And now here she is to help University of Hawai‘i at Hilo’s pharmacy college transition between deans and envision the future. Carolyn Ma, who served as dean of the college from 2016, retired in January. The search for a permanent dean for the college is expected to commence in late summer.

Meanwhile, the college benefits from having someone at the helm who has done this kind of work before. Mobley Smith served as interim dean and visiting professor for Northeastern University Bouvé College of Health Sciences, School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, for the 2020-2021 academic year, in a role very similar to her commitment to UH Hilo.

The plan

Pharmacy College Logo with volcano and Words: The Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy, University of Hawaii at Hilo.Coming to UH Hilo, the new interim dean took note that faculty at the college are most concerned about enrollment, curriculum, revenue, research, and the college community’s environment and atmosphere. Reflective of that, Mobley Smith has set several top priorities:

      • Ensure the college’s curriculum is of the highest quality, contemporary and innovative.
      • Increase student enrollment.
      • Enhance the spirit of community at the college.
      • Empower all faculty, staff, and students to function at the top level of their knowledge, skills and abilities.
      • Expand research, community collaborations, and clinical services.
      • Enhance development and advancement activities.

Placing emphasis on making a difference in the local community is Mobley’s passion.

“The bottom line is that good medicine can help communities,” says Mobley Smith. “It is our responsibility to make positive differences in communities.”

Among her action plan items is strengthening the connections between students and the resources offered through both the college and local community. She says a crucial connecting point for these resources is through faculty who can serve as mentors, assist with community networking, arrange volunteer experiences, and be aware of local health care niches in which students can serve.

She notes there are 170 different roles in which pharmacy graduates could work.

“Our role is to protect the health of the citizens of the state,” she explains. “We need to be innovative and break outside of the box.”

“I’ve never been accused of not being innovative,” she adds.

The experience

Mobley Smith will draw from her wealth of experience while navigating this upcoming year.

She currently serves on several advisory boards including the University Civil Service Merit Board, Professional Examination Service Board of Directors, and the Board of Directors for ACCESS Community Health Network.

Her numerous grants, professional and civic awards include the Illinois Pharmacists Association “Pharmacist of the Year,” and National Pharmaceutical Association’s Chauncey I. Cooper Award in recognition of sustained and distinguished professional service. She is well published and has a history of working in both academic and clinical settings.

Mobley Smith earned her doctorate of pharmacy with high honors at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where she served in numerous faculty positions for more than 13 years until moving to Chicago State University College of Pharmacy. At Chicago State, her positions included associate professor and chair for pharmacy practice, interim dean, and dean and full professor until her retirement from that work in 2015.

To learn more about the new interim dean’s perspectives on pharmacy education, watch Mobley Smith interviewed during her year at Northeastern:

By Jordan Hemmerly, majoring in marine science at UH Hilo.

Photo by Kirsten Aoyagi, a communication major at UH Hilo.

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