May 20, 2019

School News

SoP Strategic Plan Approved by Faculty/Staff

SoP faculty and staff approved the reconfigured School of Pharmacy strategic plan (2019-2025) during the May Retreat. The plan creates more focus with three strategic goals and 11 strategies. The previous strategic plan contained nine priorities and more than 70 strategies.

The new strategic plan centered on the themes of Innovate, Cultivate, and Educate will guide the resourcing and work of everyone at the School. Each SoP faculty and staff member will play an important role in helping achieve these ambitious strategic goals to help ensure our continued success.

Here’s our strategic roadmap for the next five years:

INNOVATE: Position the School to advance the future of health care

  1. Double extramural funding and programmatic revenue by 2025.
  2. Double the investment in interdisciplinary and translational research and healthcare policy by 2025.
  3. Identify and implement advances in five areas of clinical practice or healthcare systems to improve patient outcomes by 2025.
  4. Create research programs by 2025 in order to usher in a new era of personalized pharmacy.

CULTIVATE: Foster spaces of inquiry, respect, diversity, and dedication to talent development

  1. Increase by 50% underrepresented faculty, staff, and students within the school by 2025.
  2. Increase by 25% the professional development and training opportunities for faculty and staff in the UWSOP by supporting attendance at one opportunity per year by 2021.
  3. All faculty, staff, and students will demonstrate a growth mindset that promotes a learning orientation, strong effort, and malleable intelligence by 2023.
  4. Reduce overlapping PharmD academic and experiential education scheduling to 25% by 2021.

EDUCATE: Empower students and stakeholders to transform health care

  1. All students will be prepared to serve marginalized populations including at least both socioeconomic and diverse populations by 2025.
  2. 80% of UW SOP students will be practicing in a position of influence 5 years after graduation by 2025.
  3. Increase by 50% curriculum focused on the interconnected nature of healthcare by 2023.

Read the full strategic plan (2019-2025).

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Recommendations to Improve Climate to be Prioritized

The climate listening sessions with SoP faculty and staff saw strong participation with 49 people attending and providing input. Thank you to everyone who completed the climate survey and took part in the listening sessions!

The Office of Strategic Consulting reviewed the feedback from the sessions and developed six recommendations:

  1. Thank participants and share a report on the listening sessions with all employees.
  2. Define, communicate, and embed core values and guiding principles into the School of Pharmacy’s culture.
  3. Create a respectful and collaborative environment in order to align on the School of Pharmacy’s future vision and strategic priorities.
  4. Clarify processes and procedures.
  5. Create opportunities for relationship-building.
  6. Provide opportunities for all employees to build knowledge and skills related to inclusion and diversity.

SoP members at the listening sessions provided thoughts around what we should start, stop, and continue to do in order to improve our climate. During the May Retreat, faculty and staff at each table discussed what should be prioritized from the “Start” ideas. These were collected so that an action plan can be developed.

Read the full Faculty/Staff Climate Report by the Office of Consulting and see the Start/Stop/Continue lists by checking the BOX folder: Faculty Staff / 2018-2019 /Retreat May 15, 2019 / Climate Reports.

The 2018 SoP Student Climate Survey report is also available in the same location on BOX.

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SoP Launches Video Ad on Streaming TV

For the first time, SoP will run video ads on streaming TV such as Hulu, Sling, NBC, etc., to promote the pharmacy profession and the School. The new campaign targets young people and their parents to create awareness about the exciting career paths that pharmacy offers.
Watch the new video spot on the SoP YouTube channel.

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Security Update: AV Thieves Apprehended

The individuals who allegedly stole audio-visual equipment from Rennebohm Hall lecture rooms after hours in April have been arrested by UW Police. Footage from building security cameras helped police apprehend the suspects. The suspects are not UW students or employees.

SoP has taken new measures to better secure AV equipment to help prevent theft. While there are limitations as a public building, building access and security continues to be monitored.

“Safety is our priority, and we are working with authorities to improve our security at Rennebohm Hall,” said Josh Cutler, SoP Facilities Director. “Our building has several security cameras that have been instrumental in the investigation.”

As a precaution, UW Police recommends a few simple steps to reduce property crime and ensure your belongings are secure. Please consider the following:

  • Be sure to lock your office when you leave – even if you’re gone for a few minutes.
  • Keep your possessions in sight at all times. Don’t leave books or backpacks unattended anywhere — it only takes a matter of seconds for things to be stolen.
  • Never leave a wallet or purse on top of your desk — take it with you or lock it in a drawer.
  • Mark your property and record serial numbers of expensive electronics.
  • Burglars frequently target cash, laptops, phones, bikes, jewelry, etc. Don’t leave attractive items out in plain sight. If possible, store them in a locked drawer, closet or interior room. Or try to take small valuables with when you leave.

If you have any questions or concerns about security at Rennebohm Hall, please feel free to contact Josh Cutler or speak with your supervisor.

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2019 DPH-3 Pinning Ceremony

The Pinning Ceremony honors the DPH-3 class as they advance into their Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experiences.

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2019 White Coat Ceremony

The White Coat Ceremony is an annual event which symbolizes the completion of the first year in pharmacy school and emphasizes the importance of professionalism for the student pharmacists in training. Each student receives their white coat at the ceremony among faculty, staff, family, and friends.

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2019 Hooding Ceremony

The hooding ceremony is where graduates formally receive their academic hood that represents the pharmacy profession. Candidates wear the academic hood as part of their academic attire to university commencement.

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Pre-Commencement Celebration

This celebration was to honor graduate students completing a School of Pharmacy MS or PhD in spring or summer 2019.

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Rennebohm Buzz Update

The Rennebohm Buzz will be monthly during the summer! Keep us in mind to share all your exciting news.

Pet Lovers Corner: Everyone loves a small work break to look at cute pet photos. Send pictures of your pet(s)!

Voice Concerns or Ask a Question to the Dean & Leadership: Share your concerns or ask what’s on your mind. Submit your question and get your answer in an upcoming issue of the Rennebohm Buzz!

Around Town Recommendations: Send your favorite Madison restaurants, activities, and more!

Be featured in the Faculty/Staff Spotlight: Help us get to know the SoP by being featured in a future Spotlight! Tell us about yourself by completing this form and send to

SoP Salute: Know a staff or faculty member who deserves acknowledgment for a job well done or a thank-you? Recognize someone today with this form!

Other news? Send it my way!

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Congratulations to 2019 Teachers of the Year

Each spring, students select a teacher of the year from each PharmD cohort year, Pharmacology & Toxicology program, and the Student Senate Teaching Excellence Award. The recipients for 2018-2019 are:

DPH-1: Sandro Mecozzi, PSD Professor

DPH-2: Warren Heideman, PSD Professor

DPH-3: Eva Vivian, PPD Professor

PharmTox: Jeff Johnson, PSD Professor

Student Senate: Melgardt de Villiers, PSD Professor

Below are words shared by each of the class representatives about the selected Teacher of the Year recipients:

“Professor Mecozzi is a professor who truly wants his students to succeed and puts his students first. He ensures that the classroom is an open environment for questions and concerns to be addressed and wants his students to feel welcomed and understood. He is a great lecturer and always keeps class fun by making jokes and laughing with us often. Professor Mecozzi makes pharmacy school feel a little bit more like home.” Nicholas Olszewski, DPH-1


“Dr. Heideman is one of those unique professors you will recall years after graduating from school. Once in a generation type of professor! His enthusiasm for teaching is so prominent that it shows in his lectures, emails, and announcements. He will be missed! He goes an extra mile to make lectures fun, interactive and relatable.” Austin Lange, DPH-2



“Dr. V was the course coordinator for our two hardest classes last semester and with that comes a lot of pressure from the students throughout the year. After having my first sit-down meeting with her, it was evidently clear that she truly cares about her students. She made accommodations and sacrifices for the students in our class and gave us the best chance possible to succeed. Dr. V continuously stressed that everything she was teaching our class was important because it had real-world implications for our future patients rather than just being important because we wanted a good exam score. Personally, I consider myself lucky to have had the opportunity to be taught by Dr. Vivian, and I will try to use her leadership style as a guide as I progress in my career.” Griffin Budde, DPH-3



“Dr. Johnson has been a thought-provoking, engaging, and brilliant professor. He has great charisma and lectures in a clear manner. His teachings show above and beyond effort that demonstrates his passion for the field. Additionally, Dr. Johnson has been a knowledgeable advisor for the PharmTox program.” Ramsey Benkert, 4th year PharmTox



“You can truly tell how much Dr. De Villiers cares about the students. He can be tough in class and on exams, but that’s because he wants us all to be the best we can be. He’s also working super hard on the re-accreditation process on top of all his teaching responsibilities. We are truly lucky to have him.” Graham Edwardson, DPH-3

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Weiping Tang Awarded UW Vilas Faculty Mid-Career Investigator Award

On May 8, 2019, Weiping Tang, PSD Professor and Director of the Medicinal Chemistry Center, was honored with the UW–Madison Vilas Faculty Mid-Career Investigator Award. Tang was one of 16 UW professors across campus who received the award that recognizes research and teaching excellence. The award provides flexible research funding for one year.

Tang’s lab focuses on drug discovery, medicinal chemistry, and chemical biology. They are currently working on selective degradation of disease-causing proteins and new methods to improve the efficiency of carbohydrate synthesis. The award funding allowed Tang to hire Brett Roberts, a postdoc with a PhD in physiology, and a lab manager. With additional lab members, Tang plans to take the program in new directions by acquiring the capability of creating and screening billions of novel DNA-barcoded compounds derived from biological systems, such as bacteriophage, to identify hits for the development of therapeutics through collaborations with other researchers at UW.

PSD Assistant Professor Jiaoyang Jiang also won a UW Vilas Early Career Investigator Award.

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Olayinka Shiyanbola’s Diabetes Adherence Project Wins Funding

SAS Assistant Professor Olayinka Shiyanbola was recently awarded the UW–Madison Contemporary Social Problems Initiative Award for her project, “Partnering with Peers in the Community to Improve Diabetes Medication Adherence for African Americans in Madison and Milwaukee.” Shiyanbola’s project was one of five projects awarded funding out of 36 submissions.

This project began in 2016 when Shiyanbola was given a KL2 scholar career development grant to study what African American patients believe about their diabetes and why they had low medication adherence. She began her research with focus groups and planned to use this qualitative data to create a culturally appropriate survey tool that could be used to help healthcare providers identify African Americans’ perception of diabetes. As her research continued, Shiyanbola began to ask the focus group participants what they perceived to be potential solutions to their medication non-adherence. She found that many of the participants recommended a buddy system that could help them combat and control diabetes, learn to communicate with their health providers, and de-stigmatize diabetes in their community.

This community engaged approach was helpful and as a result Shiyanbola and her collaborators decided to create a social support, educational, and behavioral skill building program named “Peers Lead”. In this program, patients learning to manage their diabetes are partnered with program ambassadors who are also African American and are successfully managing their type 2 diabetes. All ambassadors are a part of the peer advisory board which helps Shiyanbola and her collaborators get program feedback and make decisions.

The program consists of three face to face meetings and five phone calls over an eight-week period. Each phone call is about 15-30 minutes and gives the peers a chance to discuss a diabetes educational topic ranging from positive living with diabetes, discussing diabetes with family and community, and setting goals for improved medication use. Peer buddies could also seek advice from their ambassador. The program also provides group educational sessions with guests such as a pharmacist and physician. During these sessions, participants beliefs about diabetes and medicines are addressed, participants build skills on how to talk to their healthcare providers, and are counseled on best diabetes care practices.

“We’ve seen the statistics that show significant distrust of medical professionals in the African American community. This program gives them the opportunity to learn in a comfortable environment and gives them the tools they need to succeed in caring for their diabetes,” said Shiyanbola.

This two-year grant will support the expansion of the program in Madison and Milwaukee, and the adoption of technology. The program plans to help participants learn to use the messaging application WhatsApp to foster communication between the ambassadors and their peers. Shiyanbola’s hope is that after the two-year grant ends, the buddies and ambassadors will have built such a strong community that they will continue to support one another as well as share their newly gained knowledge with others in their communities.

Watch this video about Olayinka Shiyanbola’s work.

Read more about her research in medication adherence.

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Kate Rotzenberg and Kevin Look Present at the 2019 UW Teaching & Learning Symposium

SoP faculty and staff are sharing their teaching expertise and experience at the 2019 UW–Madison Teaching & Learning Symposium. The annual Teaching & Learning Symposium provides an opportunity for the UW–Madison teaching and learning community to share best practices, celebrate accomplishments, and discuss new learning and teaching practices and theories in a forum dedicated to enriching the student learning experience.

SAS Associate Faculty member Kate Rotzenberg and Assistant Professor Kevin Look presented their poster titled, “Evaluation of Impromptu Posters for Ethical Analysis of a Health Care Issue”. They shared their experience of implementing a poster illustration project into their 411 Pharmacy in the Healthcare System course and explained how they evaluated student responses and engagement.

The last five weeks of their 10-week course is focused on pharmacy ethics and how to make good decisions for patients. Within this unit, Rotzenberg created a new activity where students take the content they’ve learned in lecture and apply it to a current health care issue. Students then analyze the issue from an ethics standpoint and illustrate it on a large poster board. Lastly, students have a mock poster session and present their posters in small groups. This lesson gives DPH-1 students a real-life experience of what a poster session is like, what it’s like to take questions, and to be an expert on a topic related to current health care issues.

“I’m excited to demonstrate what pharmacy is doing to engage students to be better citizens of the world and think about what their role is in the greater health care system,” said Rotzenberg.

Next, Rotzenberg plans to partner with the American Institute of the History of Pharmacy (AIHP) to have students interact with pharmacy artifacts when the class is learning about the history of pharmacy in the health system. Rotzenberg hopes the students enjoy seeing the juxtaposition of looking into pharmacy’s past and future.

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Get to Know SoP

Faculty/Staff Spotlight

Name: Olufunmilola Abraham

Job title: Assistant Professor

Hometown: Lagos, Nigeria

Tell us what you do: In my role as a faculty member in the Social & Administrative Sciences Division, I get to do a variety of things that I care deeply about which include multidisciplinary research, teaching, mentoring students, and serving on committees that help guide and shape pharmacy education, research, and practice. As a health services researcher, I enjoy using mixed-methods techniques to identify opportunities to improve responsible medication use and quality of care for youth and underserved populations.

What you are currently working on? Currently, my research lab is working on two main projects that involve: (1) developing and implementing educational games in schools that increase teen awareness about safe medication use and healthy behaviors: (2) characterizing pharmacists’ interventions to improve medication self-management for young people living with cystic fibrosis.

Who inspires you and why? My husband, Karosibina Abraham. Karosibina has a gentle, humble, patient spirit which I greatly admire and respect. Being his wife helps shape my character daily and challenges me to be thoughtful and kind in how I treat people.

Describe yourself in 3 words…Friendly, high-energy, and passionate

Latest read or TV show binge? Book: The Naked Block by Lori Tomaselli; TV shows: World of Dance, The Voice, America’s Got Talent, So You Think You Can Dance.

Proudest accomplishment? Singing in my church choir

What about your work makes you the most proud? Hopefully making a positive and lasting impact on the lives of my students through our daily interactions.

What’s something about you that we wouldn’t learn from your resume alone? I love to sing and listen to Christian music. I enjoy dancing to Nigerian songs with my 2-year old around our house!

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Buzzing Around

New Hires

Brett Roberts – Post-doc Research Associate with PSD Professor Weiping Tang, started May 1.





Lisa Szela – Associate Research Specialist with SAS Assistant Professor Olufunmilola Abraham, started May 6




Hazel Tang – Hazel has joined the School of Pharmacy’s Marketing and Communications department as a writing intern. If you see her around Rennebohm Hall, she’s likely conducting interviews with faculty and staff to provide editorial support for DiscoveRx, so feel free to introduce yourself! Hazel is a UW journalism and mass communication student from China, with a certificate in journalism from the University of California, Berkley. She loves writing, photography, and world travel.





Adam Whitehorse 

Adam Whitehorse is headed to the College of Engineering (CoE) to become their Associate Dean for Administration and Chief Financial Officer. This is a wonderful opportunity for Adam, who has provided the SoP with outstanding financial guidance for nearly a decade. The SoP enjoys a rock-solid financial foundation in part because of his excellent judgment and financial skills. Since his arrival in 2010, he has helped modernize our business services and processes, navigated multiple years of budget cuts, and led important major projects such as the Commons remodel, building the Rennebohm medicinal garden, and installing high-efficiency chemical hoods in the Tower. Perhaps his most important legacy at the SoP is the culture of partnership and service in the Business Office he has led for so many years.

“I’ve had the distinct honor of serving in my role for over 9 years and am so very fortunate to have been in a positon to contribute to the renowned School of Pharmacy.  The work itself and accomplishments have always provided a rewarding experience, but it will be the special friendships and bonds forged along the way with the remarkable faculty, staff, and leadership that I am most grateful for and will always be treasured,” said Whitehorse.

Adam begins at the CoE on June 1, and the SoP is now assembling a search and screen committee for a new associate dean for administration. Dave Mott will serve as chair. With mutual agreement with the CoE, there is a transition plan effective in June, July, and August that will assure a smooth transition as we search for Adam’s replacement.

Please join us in wishing Adam well in his exciting new role with a special farewell send-off:

  • Thursday, May 30
  • 11 a.m. – 1 p.m
  • Commons

Please RSVP by May 27.

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Madison Recommendations

Chris LaScala, Assistant Director of Marketing and Communications

Reco: Indian Lake County Park

At 483 acres, Indian Lake County Park is one of Dane County’s largest parks.  The main entrance is located on STH 19 about two miles west of USH 12. A winding trail leads to a historic chapel built in 1857, located on a hilltop with a breathtaking view of the lake and surrounding valley. Trails provide access around the entire lake, offering many recreational opportunities including access to a log cabin warming house. The park also has an unfenced dog park located adjacent to the small boat launch on the west side of the lake.  Please note that boats using gas motors are prohibited on Indian Lake – electric motors are allowed.

  • A few things that my family has done there…
    • Hiking – The park has miles of great trails that go all the way around the lake itself.
    • The Shrine – It’s pretty cool to see this chapel that was built over 160 years ago by one man based on a promise he made to the big Man upstairs.
    • Sledding Hill – The perfect sized sledding hill.  Not too small, but also not Elver park-sized that takes 20 minutes to hike back up after a run.  Kids of all ages will enjoy.
    • Warming House / Fire Pit – At the top of the sledding hill is a Warming House and a fire pit where you can take a break from cross country skiing or sledding to thaw out.
  • Other things to do that we haven’t done…
    • Fishing – I think you can fish from a pier, as well as from small boats with electric motors.
    • Cross-country skiing
    • Picnics / Gatherings – They recently installed a new picnic pagoda, new restrooms, and playground equipment near the main entrance.  There are outdoor grills there too.  Perfect for multi-family meet ups.
  • Why we like it…
    • Beauty – It’s really gorgeous, especially in the summer, and in the fall when the leaves turn.  Also, at the top of the hill, past the shrine there’s a great lookout point, perfect for taking family photos.
    • Great Trails – The trails are easy to moderate.  Great for when you have some older kids, but some younger ones too.  No need to be a mountain goat to enjoy them.  And there are several trail options allowing for short or long hikes, whichever is preferred.  Also a good place if you’re into trail running.
    • We get to bring our pooch – Dogs are welcome on leashes, and there is actually an off-leash play area at the western most end of the park.
    • Proximity – From our home in Middleton, it takes less than 20 minutes to get there.  It’s so much closer than other places like Devil’s Lake, and not nearly as crowded.
    • Bad Cell Service – This is actually a great thing. In most of the park, cell service is spotty at best. The phones get put away and everyone just enjoys nature.

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Pet Lovers Corner

Scott Rajski, PSD Scientist – Lily and Hippo

After a long day of running full throttle for squirrels, chipmunks, bouncy balls, and frisbees, Lily (right), our 9-year old black lab likes to relax by looking at our front yard and threatening away strange men wearing strange hats. Lily is now, always has been, and always will be…a little high strung. By contrast, her sister Hippo (left), who appears to be a mix of half staffy/half mouse and loves to have her picture taken. She is the kissiest little baby you’ve ever met. At 1.5 years old, Hippo is now a happy and healthy pup after having been abandoned with her sister and Mom in AL and having died on the table during her spaying surgery – surgeons heroically brought her back using puppy CPR. Hippo loves to cuddle with anybody really, but today it’s her rock star sister Lily that gets to pull pillow duty for this little Southern girl.

Valerie Schend, PPD Lecturer and Clinical Instructor – Levi

Levi is a 95-pound lap dog – he thinks he’s a small dog. If you are sitting, he will back right up and set his butt on your lap. He was also a blood donor for 5 years and loved going over to the vet school to donate.

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