Beloved Pharmacy Educator Retires from the School of Pharmacy

Family, friends, and colleagues come together to celebrate the 42-year career of Dr. Robert Beardsley.

By Malissa Carroll
December 20, 2019

“He’s such a nice guy!” If you are walking through Pharmacy Hall and overhear these five words, chances are the person who spoke them is referring to Robert Beardsley, RPh, PhD, professor and vice chair for administration in the Department of Pharmaceutical Health Services Research (PHSR) at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy.

From the thoughtful guidance and mentorship he provides students to the spirit of collegiality that he nurtures among faculty and other pharmacy professionals, Beardsley has distinguished himself as a universally beloved and respected educator during his 42-year career at the School of Pharmacy – a career set to end on Dec. 31 as he embarks on the next phase of his life: retirement.

“Dr. Beardsley’s colleagues have called him a mentor and a role model – someone who puts the needs of students and the quality of the education experience first,” said Natalie D. Eddington, PhD, FCP, FAAPS, dean and professor of the School, in remarks delivered during a celebration to honor Beardsley’s career on Nov. 21. “His students have called him a gentleman, clear thinker, problem solver, and brilliant listener. I am honored to call him a friend and a colleague. Congratulations on reaching this major milestone in your life, Dr. Beardsley. Everyone at the School is happy for you and wishes you a rewarding and relaxing retirement.”

A Shining Star in Pharmacy Education

Originally from Roseburg, Ore., Beardsley received his Bachelor of Science in pharmacy from Oregon State University (OSU) College of Pharmacy in 1972. He completed his PhD in pharmacy administration at the University of Minnesota in 1977, and moved to Maryland later that year to accept a position as an assistant professor in PHSR. During his time at the School, Beardsley gained recognition as an exceptional educator, rising through the ranks to achieve status as a full professor and serving as the School’s associate dean for student affairs from 1989 to 2005, as well as vice chair for education in PHSR from 2006 to 2013, before assuming his current role as vice chair for administration in the department.

“All of us at the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) are guided by seven core values: accountability, civility, collaboration, diversity, excellence, knowledge, and leadership,” said C. Daniel Mullins, PhD, professor and chair of PHSR. “While I know that Dr. Beardsley has taught a lot of students many important lessons regarding their clinical skills and research, I also want us to reflect on how much he has taught us as faculty about living those core values. He truly has shown us what it means to be an exceptional faculty member, and I thank him for being our teacher. We will sincerely miss his presence in our department.”

Advancing Pharmacy Education from Coast to Coast

In 1993, Beardsley was a member of the team tasked with transforming the School’s Bachelor of Science in pharmacy program into the Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) program. In addition to serving as course manager for a graduate-level course in health behavior theory, Beardsley taught several courses in the PharmD curriculum and served as course manager for three electives, including Patient Counseling, Care of the Terminally Ill, and Effective Leadership and Advocacy. He also led the School of Pharmacy in developing several dual degree programs with other UMB schools.

Beardsley’s passion for ensuring that students receive a quality pharmacy education even extends beyond the walls of Pharmacy Hall.

The American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) selected Beardsley to be one of four authors tasked with writing a white paper on student professionalism, and to serve as chair of a national task force on professionalism that revised the Oath of a Pharmacist and crafted the new Pledge of Professionalism. He also served as chair of AACP’s Council of Deans in 2003 and 2004, and was later named president of the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) in 2012. As president of ACPE, Beardsley led the organization that oversees the accreditation of more than 140 schools of pharmacy across the United States.

“Dr. Beardsley was one of my professors when I was a student at the School of Pharmacy, and his mentorship and advocacy for the profession have had a lasting impact on my career,” said Nicole Brandt, PharmD, MBA, BCPP, BCGP, FASCP, professor in the Department of Pharmacy Practice and Science (PPS) and executive director of the Peter Lamy Center on Drug Therapy and Aging at the School of Pharmacy. “On behalf of everyone who has had the opportunity to be taught by him, collaborate with him, or be mentored by him, I just want to say thank you. Being your student and your colleague has been an amazing experience, and we will miss you in your retirement.”

Paving a Path for Future Generations of Pharmacy Professionals

Beardsley has received numerous awards throughout his career in recognition of leadership in pharmacy education and across the profession, including the 2008 Mentor of the Year Award from the Maryland Pharmacists Association, the 2011 Robert K. Chalmers Distinguished Pharmacy Educator Award from AACP, and the 2014 Icon of Pharmacy Award from the OSU College of Pharmacy.

But, for every recognition that Beardsley receives, he makes sure to pay it forward. He and his wife, Kathy, have established scholarships at the School of Pharmacy; the University of Maryland, College Park; and OSU College of Pharmacy to help future generations of pharmacy professionals succeed in their academic endeavors.

“Having Dr. Beardsley as a colleague and friend has been a great experience, because he is a truly unselfish person,” said Frank Palumbo, PhD, JD, professor in PHSR. “He is always willing to jump in and help regardless of the circumstances, and he never expects a lot of accolades in return – a true academic gentleman. It was such a pleasure to work with him all of these years, and I wish him the best in his retirement.”

Cementing a Legacy in the Profession

“Working in higher education can be challenging at times, but it has been the relationships that I have made over these amazing 42 years that have kept me going,” said Beardsley, who plans to remain involved in advancing pharmacy education both in the United States as well as abroad during his retirement. “God has certainly blessed me with incredible individuals to work with – students, faculty, staff, and pharmacists alike – and I hope to continue this important work.”

To celebrate Beardsley’s retirement and honor all that he has achieved during his more than four decades as a pharmacy educator, the University System of Maryland granted Beardsley the status of professor emeritus.

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