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SOP’s Shaya Named UMB Teacher of the Year

Professor and vice chair for academic affairs in PHSR honored for her dedication to teaching and mentoring the next generation of pharmaceutical health services researchers.

Fadia Tohme Shaya, MPH, PhD

By Chris Zang
October 16, 2017

Teach the Skill, Coach the Effort, Applaud the Success

That credo, which is displayed in the office of Fadia Tohme Shaya, MPH, PhD, professor and vice chair for academic affairs in the Department of Pharmaceutical Health Services Research (PHSR) at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, capsulizes how Shaya has become such a respected teacher and mentor, earning the University of Maryland, Baltimore’s (UMB) Founders Week Teacher of the Year Award in October. “My role is to make sure I am a good coach,” she says, “who is here to guide and encourage, yet strict enough to model and teach a very strong work ethic.”

Since joining the School’s faculty in 2002, Shaya has demonstrated her strength in leading by example, inspiring students, postdoctoral fellows, trainees, staff, and junior faculty in PHSR.

“They do as you do, not as you say,” says Shaya. “I believe it is my responsibility as an educator and researcher to seed that excitement.”

No wonder students, past and present, love her.

“I could tell right away she was a generous person, full of intelligence, but humble and an ideal mentor,” says Confidence Gbarayor, PhD ‘11, MPH, program coordinator at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. “Under Dr. Shaya’s guidance, I was awarded an NIH supplement grant, which allowed me to thrive in my studies and earn my PhD. Dr. Shaya brings out the best in people and is truly an inspiration.”

Shaya loves the students right back, and she is well aware that their needs are changing so rapidly that instructors can hardly keep pace.

“We need to advance the pedagogy of learning, and connect it to research,” Shaya says. “Students can get the information they need from various sources. Our role as educators is to help them streamline it.”

 As a result, Shaya stays flexible — both as an instructor and researcher — using Sesame Street to reach parents and children about the dangers of substance and opioid use, mentoring underprivileged West Baltimore youths during the summer, and promoting interprofessional team-building throughout UMB.

Last spring, she organized an IPE program at UMB focused on training students to counter the opioid epidemic and administer naloxone. It attracted students from all seven UMB schools, as well as the physician assistant program in Anne Arundel County.

One of the first faculty in PHSR to recruit, support, and mentor postdoctoral fellows, Shaya’s trainees have been awarded prestigious research and training grants. Her courses are highly sought after and often referenced by graduates as among their most influential.

“Over 15 years, she has mentored more than 20 postdoctoral fellows who have pursued successful careers in academia, government, and industry,” say Natalie D. Eddington, PhD ‘89, FAAPS, FCP, dean and professor of the School, and C. Daniel Mullins, PhD, professor and chair of PHSR, who nominated Shaya for the UMB Teacher of the Year award. “Dr. Shaya has also supported the training of minority students and junior faculty under the NIH minority supplement mechanism.”

During the summer, she mentors younger students through the UMB Bioscience Summer Program. “Last summer, a ninth-grade girl from a very disadvantaged social setting asked me at the end of her rotation: ‘can you help me with my application to college?’” Shaya recalls. “That request was my best reward.”

Fluent in five languages, Shaya has a world of experience, having been born in Beirut, Lebanon, moving to Paris, France, as a teenager, then to England before becoming a U.S. citizen 25 years ago. As a speaker, she is in demand, locally, nationally, and internationally.

“Dr. Shaya is one of the few academics who can navigate different geographic cultures seamlessly,” says Huda Abu-Saad Huijer, RN, PhD, FEANS, FAAN, dean of the American University of Beirut’s Hariri School of Nursing.

Shaya is thrilled to be UMB’s Teacher of the Year. “Being recognized for teaching and mentoring is the utmost honor in my mind — the essence of being in an academic institution,” she says. “Our research, practice, and service are strongest and most enduring when they are built on a foundation of teaching with heart.”

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