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Thank you, Dean Chesnut, for Years of Dedication and Service

In September of this past year, Dr. Renae Chesnut announced her decision to step down from the role of Dean of the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences at Drake University, effective February 1, 2024. Following this transition, she will embark on a year-long sabbatical, culminating in her retirement in December 2024. Dean Chesnut's impending departure leaves an indelible legacy and a profound impact that is challenging to articulate adequately. Her steadfast commitment to students, faculty, and the broader Drake University community has been a hallmark of her deanship and a defining characteristic of her entire career at the institution.

Dean Chesnut's tenure stands as a testament to her role as a pioneer and innovative leader, as evidenced by a distinguished list of accomplishments that have propelled the college to new heights. Her visionary approach has been instrumental in fostering the successful growth and advancement of the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences.

An intangible aspect of Dean Chesnut's leadership that warrants recognition is her unique ability to forge connections among individuals to achieve collective goals. As articulated by Dr. Michael Nelson, Assistant Dean of Student Affairs, "She builds coalitions, creates a sense of urgency, and finds a way to bring people together to work on common projects." Dr. Nelson further characterizes her as a strong and effective leader who remains approachable and receptive to the ideas of faculty members and students. Provost Sue Mattison echoes this sentiment, highlighting Dean Chesnut's remarkable ability to recall the names and experiences of virtually every graduate from the pharmacy program. This aptitude for connecting with individuals and empowering them to reach their full potential has been a distinctive feature of her leadership at Drake and beyond.

The DELTA Rx Institute is a prime example of the intersection of Dean Chesnut’s ability to unite people and her devotion to advancing the student experience and profession of pharmacy. Dean Chesnut played an instrumental role in the creation of the DELTA Rx Institute and has continued to foster its growth and expansion over the years. Dr. Chuck Phillips, who will be serving as the interim Dean, reflected that “[Dean Chesnut] has led by example – being the glue that held DELTA Rx together during the formative years and advancing its reach on campus through collaborations. Her embodiment of innovation and entrepreneurial spirit has spread throughout the college.” 

Under Dean Chesnut's guidance, the pharmacy program at Drake University has consistently produced graduates with substantial exposure to entrepreneurial opportunities, fostering empowerment to pursue diverse paths in the field. Consequently, a myriad of new opportunities has been cultivated for students, solidifying the College's national reputation as a leader in pharmacy education.

As Dean Chesnut transitions to a new chapter in her professional journey, her impact will resonate within the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences and across the broader Drake University community. We are extremely grateful for her exceptional leadership, unwavering commitment, and transformative contributions.