Wingate University names new School of Pharmacy dean

Luanne Williams

Wingate University has chosen a 20-year veteran of pharmacy education with proven experience in curriculum development and interprofessional education to lead its School of Pharmacy. Dr. Susan P. Bruce will begin her duties as dean of the University’s most senior health sciences program in January 2021.

“Dr. Bruce is a dynamic communicator and a proven collaborator. Her versatility and experience will help our School of Pharmacy to be poised to continue its success,” said Jeff Frederick, Wingate’s provost, who announced the hire last week. 

Bruce has worked at Northeast Ohio Medical University’s College of Pharmacy in Rootstown, Ohio, since 2008, serving as chair of Pharmacy Practice for 11 years and as senior associate dean of education since January of last year. Her past NEOMED posts include interim program director and associate dean for pharmacy education and interprofessional studies. From 2003 to 2008, she served her alma mater, Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences in Albany, N.Y., helping to lead the Department of Pharmacy Practice. She also has experience as a staff and clinical pharmacist and has taught at Midwestern University Chicago College of Pharmacy. 

Bruce earned her bachelor and doctoral degrees at Albany and completed a primary care pharmacy practice residency with a focus on education at Midwestern. In 2009, she completed the Harvard University Graduate School of Education Management Development Program.

"As dean, Dr. Bruce will set a standard for developing both students and faculty. Susan will be both an advocate for the pharmacy program and a tremendous resource for Wingate, and the community,” Frederick said.

The new dean describes her leadership role as that of a facilitator of collaboration and consensus building.

“If you position people for success by aligning their strengths and their work, they will exceed expectations,” Bruce wrote in her letter of interest for the post. She said her near term goals at Wingate will include reaffirming the faculty’s commitment to collaborative teamwork, transforming the curriculum and ensuring a strong pipeline. 

“The eldest members of Generation Z are in our classrooms. This tech-savvy generation wants flexibility and learns best by participating in projects, problem-solving activities and technology-based applications,” Bruce says. “Knowing this, traditional pharmacy curriculum needs to evolve from a lockstep informational download of data and facts through lecture-heavy learning to one that incorporates more generational sensitive techniques.”

Like many higher education leaders across the nation, Bruce endured a trial by fire of sorts in March when the COVID-19 pandemic forced universities to shift to online learning. She said face-to-face education was halted at 7 p.m. on March 10 at NEOMED, and by 8 a.m. the next morning, pharmacy faculty were delivering curriculum online and on schedule.

“Due to the strong foundation of our collaborative team, we organized quickly and began managing as many variables as possible to keep all of our students on track for the duration of the semester,” Bruce reported. Their shift to online learning came in the midst of implementing a new curriculum.

A long-time volunteer for cancer-research nonprofits, Bruce has served as a “blanketeer” for the Greater Cleveland Chapter of Project Linus for the past six years, helping to provide thousands of blankets to children in need.

At Wingate, she will take the School of Pharmacy reins from founding dean Robert Supernaw who announced his retirement more than a year ago, but filled in as the University’s interim provost until Frederick arrived July 1. Supernaw has been serving as interim WUSOP dean since. 

The School of Pharmacy welcomed its first students in 2003. Since then, Wingate has secured its place as the leading healthcare educator in western North Carolina, adding programs in nursing, physician assistant, physical therapy and occupational therapy. Earlier this year, the University announced plans for a public health program to begin in 2021. 

Aug. 31, 2020

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