Palumbo Named 2019 Founders Week Educator of the Year

Well-loved at the School of Pharmacy and the Francis King Carey School of Law, veteran professor is extolled as “an extraordinary teacher and an incredible asset” to UMB.

By Lou Cortina
October 21, 2019

How do you know you’ve made an impact as a teacher? When students flip the script and take time out of their busy lives to write recommendation letters for you.

This is the case with Francis B. Palumbo, PhD, JD, MS, professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Health Services Research at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy (UMSOP). Palumbo was named UMB’s 2019 Educator of the Year, with his nomination bolstered by five letters from former students.

And those raves are just the tip of the iceberg for Palumbo, a licensed pharmacist with a PhD in health care administration and a law degree, whose influence on students is expanded by his role as an adjunct professor at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law, where he teaches a course in food and drug law.

“If I reached out today to 20 former students — many working for prestigious law firms and at the highest level at the Food and Drug Administration — and asked them to write a testimonial about Dr. Palumbo, they would jump at the chance in a moment,” says Virginia Rowthorn, JD, LLM, executive director of UMB’s Center for Global Education Initiatives and a former colleague of Palumbo’s at Carey Law. “He is incredibly warm, welcoming, and delightful. Dr. Palumbo is an extraordinary teacher and an incredible asset to this University.”

Palumbo has been a member of UMSOP’s faculty since 1974. Over the years, he’s taught pharmacy management, medical care organization, health economics, and pharmacy law. In the 1980s, he co-founded the school’s distinguished graduate program in Pharmaceutical Health Services Research as well as its Center on Drugs and Public Policy, of which he is executive director. He has mentored many master’s and PhD students and taught courses on research methods and drugs and public policy.

“I am extremely humbled to win the Educator of the Year Award since there are so many extremely talented faculty at UMB,” Palumbo says. “I have been involved in many aspects of higher education, but my impact on the lives of my students gives me the greatest satisfaction. I’m very pleased that my former students have good thoughts about me, and I take pride in their career successes.”

One such former student is Noel E. Wilkin, PhD, provost and executive vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Mississippi, who studied under Palumbo at UMSOP and worked with him while pursuing his PhD in the late 1990s.

“Dr. Palumbo had a memorable influence on my perspectives and my commitment to the pharmacy profession,” Wilkin says. “He combines his legal knowledge and ability as a scholar to make significant contributions in one of the world’s most regulated professions and industries. His calm, measured, and principled approach to solving problems, teaching his courses, and providing advice has made him a valuable resource and contributor to the professional and graduate programs at the School of Pharmacy.”

Alan Lyles, ScD, MPH, the Henry A. Rosenberg Professor of Public, Private and Nonprofit Partnerships at the University of Baltimore, is another former student who sees Palumbo as a role model, citing his professional ethics, commitment to teaching, and mentorship.

“He was an approachable professor and generous with his time and encouragement,” Lyles says. “Until I took Dr. Palumbo’s courses, I was thoroughly committed to pharmaceutical chemistry. After his courses, I was aware of larger possibilities. I saw the issues that Dr. Palumbo raised play out in the real-life setting of a pharmacy and came to think that a better path was to study administration and policy.

“I have sought Dr. Palumbo’s counsel throughout graduate school, my years as a medical school administrator, and subsequently in academia. He has set a standard for teaching, learning, and mentorship that I strive to emulate.”

Palumbo received his bachelor’s degree in pharmacy from the Medical University of South Carolina, his master’s and PhD in health care administration from the University of Mississippi, and his law degree from the University of Baltimore. He has produced countless journal articles and presentations, held leadership roles in national professional organizations, and served as chair of the Food and Drug Law Journal’s editorial advisory board.

Palumbo also teaches a class that helps pharmacy students prepare for the part of the licensure exam that tests their knowledge of federal and state laws, and he and his colleagues annually hold a two-day law review session for UMSOP graduates, other schools’ graduates, and pharmacists from other states pursuing licensure in Maryland.

Students at UMSOP and Carey Law appreciate his deep knowledge of the subject matter, his thoughtful feedback on their papers, and his willingness to go the extra mile to help them with their research. The deans at both schools appreciate him, too.

“Dr. Palumbo has applied his pharmaceutical and research training and practice to his academic career and made a great impact on our school and our students,” says UMSOP Dean Natalie D. Eddington, PhD, FAAPS, FCP. “The students have always thought very highly of his work and his influence on them. He continues to be a positive force at UMB.”

Dean Donald B. Tobin, JD, says Palumbo is a beloved figure at Carey Law, where there’s a waiting list for his class every semester.

“On our class evaluations, students have praised his mastery of the subject matter, his passion for the material, and his approachability,” Tobin says. “One student perhaps best captured his persona, describing him as ‘friendly, humble, and smart.’”

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