Long serving dean to step down and return to classroom

by Karen Burbach and Tom O'Connor, UNMC public affairs | December 15, 2006

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Clarence Ueda, Pharm.D., Ph.D.
When Clarence Ueda, Pharm.D., Ph.D., steps down as dean of the UNMC College of Pharmacy next summer, it will end one of the longest running tenures of any UNMC dean.

Dr. Ueda will wrap up his deanship on July 31, capping 20 years in the leadership role. Dr. Ueda, who announced his plans this week, will return to the classroom full-time as a tenured professor in the pharmaceutical sciences department.

"We've made significant strides over the years," Dr. Ueda said. "I've tried to raise the standards and expectations in the professional and graduate programs, as well as the scholarship and research side. It's been exciting."

UNMC Chancellor Harold M. Maurer, M.D., said he's enjoyed working with Dr. Ueda over the past eight years as chancellor and prior to that as dean of the College of Medicine for five years. "Over his tenure as dean, the College of Pharmacy has trained the majority of current practitioners in the state of Nebraska, has increased the application rate to the college, and his faculty have become strong members of the UNMC research force," Dr. Maurer said. "Dean Ueda leaves the College of Pharmacy leadership with the college in a strong position."

Born in Kansas City, Mo., Dr. Ueda grew up in Berkeley, Calif, where he attended the University of California, Berkeley, and then the University of California, San Francisco, where he earned both his Pharm.D., and Ph.D. degrees.

Dr. Ueda joined the College of Pharmacy, then located in Lincoln, in March 1974 as an assistant professor. He went on to become acting chairman of the department of pharmaceutics, associate professor, chairman and professor. He served as interim dean of the College of Pharmacy from May 1986 to February 1987, when he was named dean.

"Dean Ueda led the rebuilding of a college that, at the time he assumed the deanship, had only recently avoided closure, and had had significant faculty turnover," said Jeff Baldwin, Pharm.D. "Now the college has a very strong research program and is among the top pharmacy colleges in the country in terms of student success on national pharmacy licensure examinations."

The Class of 2005 ranked 11th on its national licensure examination out of 86 schools of pharmacy; the Class of 2004 ranked 12th of 85 schools and the Class of 2003 ranked 15th of 83 schools. The increasing success rate on the national board examination is likely attributable to the reformed professional curriculum that was initiated with the Class of 2002, but fully implemented with the Class of 2004. The Class of 2002 ranked 21st out of 81 schools.

In the 2006 U.S.News & World Report's academic rankings, the UNMC College of Pharmacy ranked 27th out of more than 90 pharmacy schools based on the academic quality of its doctoral program.

The college also boasts $10.2 million in research grants and contracts, as of September 30.

"I really like Clarence as a leader and regret that he is retiring as dean," said Alexander "Sasha" Kabanov, Ph.D., Dr.Sc., director of the UNMC Center for Drug Delivery and Nanomedicine and Parke-Davis Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences, UNMC College of Pharmacy. "I have experienced tremendous support from him and he has been instrumental in shaping and building the Center for Drug Delivery and Nanomedicine. I'm very thankful for the human support he extended to me when my father was sick and passed away. I look forward to collaborating with him and seeking his advice as we build one of the nation's best centers in nanomedicine."

"Clarence has been fun to work with as a fellow dean and very faithful and dedicated to UNMC and the College of Pharmacy," said John Reinhardt, D.D.S, dean of the UNMC College of Dentistry. "I like the way he always tells others what's on his mind -- it's not a problem to figure out his stance on many issues -- but yet is open-minded to another point of view. I'll miss his leadership and fellowship among us deans."

Trained in biopharmaceutics and pharmacokinetics, Dr. Ueda knew, upon graduation, that he wanted to be part of a research-intensive university. A volunteer youth football coach at the time, he was drawn to Nebraska, in part, because of Nebraska's football reputation, but even more so because of the opportunities he saw in a newly created biopharmaceutics and pharmacokinetics post.

Dr. Ueda realized that, with an acting department chair and two faculty members who planned not to make the college's 1976 move from Lincoln to the medical center campus, he could have immediate input into the future composition and direction of the pharmaceutics department. "I would be able to provide input into the selection of half of the faculty of the department and the department head," he said. "You can't ask for better than that."

The sports aficionado continues to "coach" students. Since 1994, he's served as a mentor to seventh- and eighth-grade students at Sacred Heart School, introducing them to UNMC and the laboratory environment and providing each with an "official" College of Pharmacy Laboratory coat. "I love coaching and kids," said Dr. Ueda, who was honored by Sacred Heart officials this summer.

"I tell the kids to study hard and do what they can to take advantage of opportunities to better themselves," he said. "My goal is to get them thinking early about college and post-graduate education such as professional school."

Sharon Emery, former director of the mentoring program at Sacred Heart School, is grateful for Dr. Ueda's involvement. "I don't think the mentoring program would be as successful as it is without Clarence," Emery said. "What a great blessing he has been to Sacred Heart. He's just a great person."

Mary Jo Ramirez, student affairs coordinator for the College of Pharmacy, has worked with Dr. Ueda the past 10 years. "His warm welcome to the incoming students at orientation and sincere demeanor has always impressed me," Ramirez said. "He genuinely wants each student to succeed and is willing to help the students in any way he can."

Dr. Ueda's two children -- including a daughter who graduated from UNMC's College of Pharmacy -- live in California, where he may one day return. Until then, he'll be teaching pharmacy students, mentoring underprivileged students and following the Detroit Tigers baseball team. He's also interested in working with College of Pharmacy alumni, as well as recruiting students. "I can relate to kids," he said.

"It's very unusual today to have a dean go as long as 20 years, but it's knowing when to hide, where to hide and when to duck," piqued Dr. Ueda, who has served as dean under four UNMC chancellors.

What others said:

"Dr. Ueda has been the consummate 'senior dean' at UNMC since my arrival. As a new dean several years ago, Clarence welcomed me warmly and took the time to contribute thoughtfully to my orientation. More recently, we have worked closely and effectively together to steer a course of interprofessional education for UNMC. I will miss him in so many ways: his frankness, his humor and his wealth of experience in this organization. I am losing a friend, as well as a fellow dean."

Virginia Tilden, D.N. Sc., dean, College of Nursing

"As associate dean for academic affairs, I had the exciting opportunity to work with Clarence in carrying the college through the process of educational reform. We were changing the way the curriculum was delivered to one that was more student-centered and involved more techniques for active learning and classroom assessment. This is a process that is continuing today and is one of Clarence's key accomplishments as dean of College of Pharmacy."

Ted Roche, Ph.D., associate professor, pharmaceutical sciences

"Dean Ueda has always been an advocate for promotion of underprivileged students. He exemplifies this by his commitment to the Sacred Heart Student Mentoring Program. Over the years there have been students that he has mentored who have gone on to achieve excellence in their chosen careers. One student in particular graduated from the College of Pharmacy whose interest in the profession was due to the time spent with mentoring by Dean Ueda. By taking the underprivileged students and guiding them to a positive professional future has been a true asset to the Sacred Heart School and they are truly grateful."

Kerry Lytle, administrator, College of Pharmacy

"Dean Ueda is a funny guy. He has a boisterous laugh, wicked sense of humor, but most of all a big heart."

Michelle Parks, UNMC College of Pharmacy Dean's Office

"Clarence became dean very soon after there had been a vigorous effort to close the UNMC College of Pharmacy. Today, the college is very highly respected nationally and internationally for the quality of the research and again this year we have significantly increased our NIH funding ranking compared to other colleges of pharmacy in the U.S. This college has always been a leader in educational programs. However, the major transition into research-intensive unit that includes several scientists who are leaders in their respective field has occurred under Dean Ueda's leadership. This will be one of his major legacies for which he deserves great credit."

Dennis Robinson, Ph.D., Chairman, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, College of Pharmacy

"Clarence and I are baseball fans. I'm a Yankee fan, and he's a Tiger fan. Over the years, I've always enjoyed bantering back and forth with him about our favorite teams. When the Tigers knocked off the Yankees in the playoffs this year, I knew I'd be getting an e-mail from Clarence, and sure enough, as soon as I turned my computer on, I see the e-mail proclaiming, "Tigers win! Tigers win! How 'bout dem Tigers!" Nothing like a dean with a good sense of humor! I wish him all the best."

Tom O'Connor, UNMC Public Affairs