November 16, 2023
On July 2, 2003, Robert “Bob” Blouin, Pharm.D., arrived at Carolina from the University of Kentucky looking for his new office as Dean, at what was the UNC School of Pharmacy at the time. It was his first day on the job and Beard Hall was in the beginning stages of renovation. He went to where he thought the Dean’s office was, but instead his administrative assistant led him out of the building to the parking lot where two 30-year-old double wide trailers were found.
Marked, “Dean’s Office”, Blouin found his new home for over two years. Indeed, it was a humble beginning for Blouin, but it was in that trailer where a strategy was built that would set the School up for an outstanding future.
Blouin, served as Dean for over 14 years from 2003 to 2017. Under his leadership, the school became an internationally recognized leader in pharmacy practice, education and research, ranked No. 1 in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. He also oversaw an impressive increase by school faculty in growing the research portfolio from $2 million in research funding in 2002 to $36 million in 2016, ranking second among the nation’s pharmacy schools. During this time, the School was named the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy in honor of alumnus Fred Eshelman, BSPharm ‘72, and the Eshelman Institute for Innovation was formed after an unprecedented gift of $100 million by Eshelman.
“Bob’s legacy at the School is evident each day as students, faculty and staff enter our building. He helped make us what we are today, the No. 1 school of pharmacy in the country. Because of Bob, our community is driven to continue to be a leader in pharmacy and pharmaceutical science,” said UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy Dean Angela Kashuba, Pharm.D.
Without hesitation, Blouin said the key to success during his tenure as Dean was the people. He brought the aspirational goal to be an international leader in pharmacy and pharmaceutical sciences education, research and public service. Recruiting and retaining intellectual talent and having them believe in the vision was top priority—for faculty, staff and students.
“As a result, when you have people that really believe in what they’re doing and really aspire to make a difference, they work very hard for the institution,” he said. “My biggest parting words would be thank you. It has been the joy of a lifetime to be the Dean of the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy—it’s a very special and unique place in a positive way.”
Blouin was named the Vaughn and Nancy Bryson Distinguished Professor in the Division of Pharmacotherapy and Experimental Therapeutics in 2003. His academic interests include pharmacokinetics and the effect of disease and altered physiologic states on the disposition of drugs. Prior to returning to the faculty in August 2022, Blouin served in the administrative role of provost and executive vice chancellor from 2017 to 2022 at Carolina.
He officially retired on Oct. 31, but he does not plan to slow down. He is moving into a new role as president and CEO of Med Aditus International, founded by former faculty member and Interim Dean of the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy (2017-2019) Dhiren Thakker, Ph.D.