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The Dean's Letter

Dean’s Message | Fall 2019

Earlier this year, after 46 years in pharmacy academia, I announced my intention to retire. Since that announcement, I have received the same three questions over and over again. The first one is, “What are you going to do in retirement?” The answer remains to be seen. The second asks, “Will Teri also retire?” My wife, Teri, currently works two days a week as a pharmacist. Her answer to that question is, “Well, you are going to be home now, right? Maybe I will go back to working full time.” We laugh, but she may be serious. The third question is typically, “Do you have hobbies or projects?” The answer to that question is very typical of deans and others in executive positions: my vocation and my avocation are the same.

My life has been consumed with students, faculty, staff and administrators, as well as planning, supervising, negotiating and strategizing. When I’m not doing those things, I am thinking about them. First, you’re tired, then you’re retired.

I recently read an article in Forbes that indicated Type A personalities are not cut out for retirement. We are used to structured days and living by a strict calendar, run by full-time support staff. Our days are long, governed by deadlines, reports, meetings, budgets and spreadsheets. We have people to help us deal with issues that arise throughout the day and immediately resolve technical issues, such as putting apps on our smartphones. These issues include minor but important tasks like needing a ride to a meeting across campus because it’s pouring rain, refilling the coffee cup during a conference call without being asked or running out to get a new tie for the afternoon because the one you’re wearing landed in your soup. Apparently, this will all disappear upon my retirement. There will be no more early arrivals to the office to make calls to the East Coast. No more planning, executing, assessing, revising and documenting. No more Monday morning staff meetings with my team, no more report-outs, no more evaluations. I will no longer eat lunch at my desk in the Dean’s office. I have to admit, I am nervous, but I am determined to make a successful transition. Maybe I will “unretire” at some point to pursue a passion yet to be determined.

By far, the part of the job I will miss the most are the people. I have been blessed with amazing staff, faculty, students and administrative partners in my career. I have had the honor to interact with some of the most revered professionals in health care. I have enjoyed working with our donors to transform the School through their generosity. It’s the people who have made my career a labor of love.

My goal is to keep some structure, just enough to allow for those spontaneous moments. I also will have a solid purpose to each day and week, with goals to complete in the short and long term. I will continue to meet and network with my former colleagues and find new and interesting ways to stay social. I will continue to see all of you at association meetings, celebrations and special occasions.

Pacific is a very special place and I will continue to be involved in her evolution.

University of the Pacific - Phillip R. Oppenheimer
Phillip R. Oppenheimer, PharmD
Professor and Dean
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