The Vassallo Interviews — Steve Vassallo is a HottyToddy.com contributor who interviews Oxford’s and our region’s leading personalities.
Steve said, “Dr. David D. Allen is Dean of the School of Pharmacy, Professor of Pharmacology and Executive Director and Research Professor of the Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences at UM. That’s a mouthful, but I found Dr. Allen to be a down-to-earth teacher and all-around great citizen of our fair city.”
HottyToddy.com — To begin with David, please share with our readers a little about your background.
David D. Allen — I received my bachelor’s degree in pharmacy from the University of Kentucky, then practiced community pharmacy for about four years before returning to UK to earn a Ph.D. in pharmaceutical sciences. Prior to joining the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy in 2012, I served as founding dean of the Northeast Ohio Medical University College of Pharmacy. I was also formerly the associate dean of curricular affairs at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center School of Pharmacy.
HottyToddy.com — How many students do we have in the School of Pharmacy?
David D. Allen — The School of Pharmacy accounts for about 1,100 students. This includes pre-pharmacy students, early-entry students, professional students, graduate students and residents.
HottyToddy.com — Are these students primarily from Mississippi, or is there a large percentage from out of state?
David D. Allen — As we are the only pharmacy school in the state, the majority of our professional Doctor of Pharmacy students are from Mississippi (about 80 percent).
HottyToddy.com — How many years are in the professional pharmacy curriculum?
David D. Allen — Our curriculum consists of three years of pre-pharmacy with four years in the professional pharmacy program. Students are located on the Oxford campus for their first two years of the professional program, and then they move to our Jackson campus at the University of Mississippi Medical Center for their final two years. I maintain offices and spend time on both campuses.
HottyToddy.com — What makes the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy unique in regard to student recruitment?
David D. Allen — We are very proud of our accessibility and affordability. As I mentioned earlier, most of our students are from Mississippi, though we have a large number of out-of-state students as well. We are one of the best pharmacy schools in the nation and offer one of the lowest tuitions in the nation (ranking in the lowest 20 percent in the country).
HottyToddy.com — What can one of our graduates anticipate entering the private sector as to a job and potential earnings?
David D. Allen — One of the best things about pharmacy is that the profession is so diverse. While most of our graduates work in community pharmacy, there are more than 600 different career paths that they can take according to the American Pharmacists Association’s Career Pathways Program. These paths include options in academia, hospital pharmacy, managed care pharmacy and industry, among other areas. Pharmacists’ salaries range from $116,000 to $140,000 nationally.
HottyToddy.com — Regarding our pharmacy faculty, tell us why they excel.
David D. Allen — Our faculty members and research scientists are strongly committed to providing quality student education, outstanding research and leadership in their disciplines. They are highly qualified and often recognized on local, national and international levels for their expertise.
I have a story that illustrates just how impactful our faculty members are. Last semester, a student came to visit me in my office to tell me how dedicated her professors are to the student body. The fact that this was her sole reason to visit speaks volumes about our faculty. Our faculty members are also very successful in the area of service. They have been recognized for their efforts with underserved populations in the Mississippi Delta. Chip Morgan, delta council executive vice president, once told me that our faculty made the greatest difference to the people of the Delta because he could point to each individual person that they affected. I’m so proud to work with these amazing colleagues.
HottyToddy.com — Shifting gears, why is Ole Miss special to you?
David D. Allen — The University of Mississippi is a great place to work. There are a number of things that make Ole Miss special, but for me, it is namely the people. I’ve had the opportunity to travel and meet our alums all over the state and I’ve been blown away by their mutual love of the School of Pharmacy and Ole Miss. I am truly blessed to be a part of the Ole Miss family.
HottyToddy.com — What do you enjoy most about Oxford?
David D. Allen — Oxford is an incredible small town that has big town assets. It has an impressive literary history, and offers so much in the areas of restaurants, arts, shopping and entertainment. My wife Loree and I are happy to call Oxford home. As an administrator at the university, I realize that partnerships between Ole Miss and the LOU community are very important. I’ve had wonderful interactions with the chamber of commerce in regard to these partnerships and am thankful for their support.
HottyToddy.com — Do you think our alums (of which I am one) place too much emphasis on athletics opposed to academics?
David D. Allen — I think athletics are an important part of the university experience – supporting our Ole Miss Rebels brings alumni, students and fans together. I’ve had the pleasure to witness this firsthand at our pharmacy alumni tailgates during football season. I’ve been pleased to observe a strong commitment from the athletics department to the academic side of the house. The School of Pharmacy is partnering with the athletics department on various projects. For example, our students are planning to administer flu shots to university athletes during the month of October.
HottyToddy.com — Is there a maximum quota that you can enroll in the School of Pharmacy each semester?
David D. Allen — Our professional pharmacy class size recently increased from 90 to 115 students. We are very glad that access for Mississippi students has increased along with this change.
HottyToddy.com — If you could change just one thing about the campus, what would that be?
David D. Allen — Quite honestly, I wouldn’t change a thing. The Ole Miss campus is absolutely beautiful and has been named one of the best in America. Jeff McManus and his team in Landscape Services do a phenomenal job of keeping the grounds pristine. Our campus is a great place that has all the resources needed for learning, teaching and research. I couldn’t ask for more!
HottyToddy.com — Do we have many international students enrolled in pharmacy?
David D. Allen — The percentage of international students in our graduate programs is very high. We are so proud of the diversity of our student body, faculty and research scientists.
HottyToddy.com — How can a high school student who is interested in enrolling in pharmacy best prepare himself/herself for a major in pharmacy?
David D. Allen — The most important thing to focus on in high school is a strong science background. Prospective students should also focus on letters of recommendation, community service and previous pharmacy work experience. We take a holistic review of these factors when considering our applicants.
Steve Vassallo is a HottyToddy.com contributor. Steve writes on Ole Miss athletics, Oxford business, politics and other subjects. He is an Ole Miss grad and former radio announcer for the basketball team. In addition, he is a certified economic and community developer and currently, a highly successful leader in the real estate business with Premier Properties of Oxford. Steve’s lifelong dream has been to live in Oxford full-time. “I am now living my dream daily as is my wife Rosie, who works with the Oxford Chamber of Commerce,” Steve said. You can contact Steve at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at 985-852-7745.