Blouin Retires After 20 Years of Service

Robert “Bob” Blouin, a former provost who helped lead the Eshelman School of Pharmacy to a No. 1 ranking, has retired.

Blouin served as dean of the pharmacy school from 2003 to 2017 and as provost from 2017 to 2022. During his tenure, the pharmacy school saw an increase in research funding from $2 million in 2002 to $36 million in 2016, ranking second among pharmacy schools nationally. Blouin also oversaw the renaming of the school to the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy in honor of Fred Eshelman ’72, whose $100 million gift formed the Eshelman Institute for Innovation and was the largest gift from an individual in UNC’s history and the largest gift ever made to a pharmacy school in the United States.

U.S. News & World Report ranked UNC’s Eshelman School of Pharmacy No. 1 nationwide in 2020, and the University maintains that position.

Blouin said the key to his successful tenure as dean were the people. “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 in a statement.

Pharmacy Dean Angela Kashuba said Blouin’s legacy is evident each day as students, faculty and staff enter the pharmacy school building. “He helped make us what we are today, the No.1 school of pharmacy in the country,” Kashuba said. “Because of Bob, our community is driven to continue to be a leader in pharmacy and pharmaceutical science.”

Blouin left the pharmacy school in 2017 to become Carolina’s provost and executive vice chancellor. While provost, he contributed to the development of the University’s strategic plan, Carolina Next: Innovations for Public Good. Blouin also oversaw the improvement of service levels across campus and a data science initiative that ultimately led to the creation of the School of Data Science and Society, which expects to enroll its first students in 2024.

In 2019, Blouin created the digital and lifelong learning unit for the University, which was a valuable asset a year later as learning transitioned from in-person instruction to fully remote classes in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Blouin stepped down as provost in 2022 to return to teaching as the Vaughn and Nancy Bryson Distinguished Professor in the pharmacotherapy and experimental therapeutics division. He retired from Carolina at the end of October and will serve as CEO of Med Aditus International, a company that partners with Sub-Saharan African nations, international agencies and private sector organizations to build pharmaceutical products and develop manufacturing and distribution in those nations.

“I want to thank Bob Blouin for the extraordinary work he did in his four years as executive vice chancellor and provost,” Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz said. “We are all grateful for his devoted leadership and service to the University as provost as well as his guidance of the Eshelman School of Pharmacy to its No. 1 ranking during his tenure as dean. We congratulate him and wish him well in his new role as Med Aditus International’s CEO.”

Blouin came to UNC from University of Kentucky in 2003, where he had served as associate dean for research and graduate education in their pharmacy school. “My biggest parting words would be ‘thank you,’ ” Blouin said. “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.”

— Cameron Hayes Fardy ’23

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