Robert Blouin, longtime dean of UNC’s Eshelman School of Pharmacy, has been named provost and executive vice chancellor of the University, succeeding Jim Dean, who is stepping down after serving four years in the position.
“When I thought about who could fill this role, it was clear that we already had the best candidate at the University, Bob Blouin, who could begin working immediately to ensure we maintain momentum as we enter the new academic year,” said Chancellor Carol L. Folt.
The provost is the University’s highest-ranking academic officer.
The Board of Trustees approved Folt’s recommendation, effective Sept. 18. Dean will work with Blouin during a transition period for the rest of the fall semester before returning to the faculty of UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School in fall 2018, following a research leave.
In addition to being dean, Blouin is the Vaughn and Nancy Bryson Distinguished Professor of molecular pharmaceutics and has been director of the Eshelman Institute for Innovation, where he has led efforts to accelerate change in education and health care.
He joined the school as dean in 2003 after 25 years at the University of Kentucky as an assistant professor, associate dean of research and graduate education, and director of entrepreneurship and economic development. At that time, UNC’s pharmacy school was ranked No. 27 in National Institutes of Health research grants; now, as ranked by U.S. News & World Report, it is No. 1.
He also has overseen an increase by school faculty in growing the research portfolio from $2 million in 2002 to $36 million in 2016, ranking second among the nation’s pharmacy schools.
“I am honored to be the University’s next provost and to continue forward with the important work already underway,” Blouin said. “I hope that I can apply what we’ve learned at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy in finding creative ways to accelerate innovation in education and research.”
At the University of Kentucky College of Pharmacy from 1978 to 2003, Blouin last served there as professor and associate dean for research and graduate education from 1997 to 2003. His responsibilities as associate dean included overseeing the development and expansion of the Center for Pharmaceutical Sciences and Technology, a multimillion-dollar drug formulation and manufacturing facility. As the executive director of the Office for Economic Development and Innovations Management, he served as the College of Pharmacy representative on all issues external to the university and those relating to economic development of the pharmaceutical sciences. He represented the college on several statewide biotechnology initiatives and has worked to advance faculty-based intellectual property.
“As director of the UNC Eshelman Institute for Innovation, Bob has led a cutting-edge effort to find creative ways to accelerate change in education and health care,” Folt said. “This experience is exactly what Carolina needs as we implement the University’s strategic framework. One of our core pillars is ‘Innovation Made Fundamental,’ and I am confident that Bob will play a key role in leading our efforts across the University.”
Blouin was recognized by the GAA Board of Directors in January 2016 with its Faculty Service Award.
Dhiren Thakker, associate dean for entrepreneurial development in the pharmacy school, will serve as its interim dean.
Dean was named provost after a 15-year tenure on the faculty and administration at Kenan-Flagler; including five years as the dean (2008-13). He also served as senior associate dean (2007-08), associate dean of executive development (2002-07) and associate dean of the MBA program (1998-2002).
As the University’s chief academic officer, Dean hired seven deans, helping 14 schools and the College of Arts and Sciences chart courses for the future. He is credited with bolstering faculty retention efforts, and he recently led campuswide efforts for a 10-year review process for reaccreditation with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
“Jim Dean and I began our tenures in South Building on the same day, July 1, 2013,” Folt said, “and I am grateful for his leadership and unwavering commitment to Carolina. I know he put a great deal of time and reflection into his decision.”