Pharmacy school dean extends his stay

The dean of Hilo’s College of Pharmacy plans to remain at the school until the end of the academic year.

Last summer, John Pezzuto, who is the founding dean of the University of Hawaii at Hilo’s Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy, announced he would be leaving at the end of the calendar year to take on the role of professor and dean at the Arnold and Marie Schwartz College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences at Long Island University in Brooklyn, N.Y.

But last month, UH-Hilo Chancellor Donald Straney reported Pezzuto likely would be staying on through the end of the academic year “to ensure continuity of the program,” he wrote in an email.

In a phone interview Wednesday, Pezzuto said he had decided to delay his move to Long Island University in order to ease the pharmacy college’s leadership transition. He said an exact date for his departure remains up in the air, but “the most logical time would be around Aug. 1.”

“Obviously, life is complicated,” he said with a laugh. “I was planning to go (at the end of 2014), and my family was planning to come join me later. But in talking to our administrative team and students, it became like switching horses in midstream. I wasn’t feeling good about (leaving).”

The school broke ground on its new building last month, and Pezzuto said he felt it was important to stay on at the school until the construction is well underway.

Meanwhile, there are a number of personnel changes being made that he would like to preside over, and the college is likely to earn full accreditation in the coming weeks, now that the school’s lack of a permanent home is on the road to being rectified.

“Staying now would just make for a much smoother transition,” he said.

Pezzuto was hired to lead the fledgling College of Pharmacy on June 1, 2006, and oversaw the opening of its doors to the first class of 90 students in August 2007.

Over the past several years, Pezzuto has struggled to maintain the college’s accreditation as UH-Hilo sought state funding for a College of Pharmacy building. The Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education requires fully accredited schools provide permanent facilities for students and faculty, and the College of Pharmacy’s temporary classrooms did not qualify.

After the building broke ground in December, Pezzuto says he believes the college will learn later this month that it has been fully accredited after a site visit by the ACPE in October — one week after then-Gov. Neil Abercrombie announced the release of state funds for the building project.

Pezzuto earns $341,568 a year, according to data provided by the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly, making him the highest paid executive on the Hilo campus by a significant margin. The next highest paid employee is the chancellor, who makes $306,504.

Email Colin M. Stewart at cstewart@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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Pharmacy school dean extends his stay
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