The largest pharmacy association in the country is honoring Dr. William "Bill" Petros, the Gates Wigner Dean of the West Virginia University School of Pharmacy, as 2023 Outstanding Dean of the Year.

The American Pharmacists Association-Academy of Student Pharmacists (APhA-ASP) presented Dr. Petros with his award on March 25 during the APhA Annual Meeting & Exposition in Phoenix, Arizona.

The student-driven award recognizes school or college of pharmacy deans who have significantly contributed to APhA–ASP chapters and have promoted student pharmacists' welfare through various community service, leadership and professional activities.

In their nomination letters, students noted that Dr. Petros is very supportive of their professional organizations, particularly APhA-ASP, by participating in their activities and helping facilitate travel to national meetings where they gain networking experiences and leadership opportunities.

Associate Dean for Admissions and Student Affairs Dr. Mary Euler calls Dr. Petros a student advocate and praises his efforts to encourage student participation in professional organizations.

"Active in many organizations himself, Bill understands the importance of our students participating in them at the local, state, regional and national levels. He encourages all to find their fit in one or more associations so that they network beyond the school of pharmacy and become advocates for the profession, Euler said. "Understanding that active involvement in these associations can place financial burdens on the student, he created a Professional Development Fund specifically to support student registration and travel to meetings, thus allowing the students to experience leadership and other professional activities."

Dr. Petros says professional pharmacy organizations are near and dear to his heart as they helped him gain the confidence to know that he could make a difference. As a dean, he enjoys seeing their positive impact on others.

"ASP, in particular, is the bridge that brings our School together," Petros said. "I continue to be amazed by the service all of the organizations provide to the citizens of our state; thus, we do everything we can to amplify their actions."

The pandemic has been the most remarkable period of his six-year tenure thus far. Under his leadership, the WVU School of Pharmacy was instrumental in planning and executing a series of large-scale Covid-19 vaccination clinics from December 2020 to July 2021. Dr. Petros led a team of students and faculty from WVU's schools of pharmacy, nursing and medicine to provide life-saving vaccinations to more than 15,000 students, faculty, staff and community members.

Students who worked at the clinics say they were thankful to Dr. Petros for allowing them to make an impact on the COVID-19 pandemic. They also admired his mentorship and active participation in their skills development outside the classroom. "During my first year of pharmacy school, I assisted with the WVU COVID-19 Vaccine Clinics," said third-year pharmacy student Brittany Davis. "During my first time in a clinic, Dean Petros personally helped me get accustomed to drawing up vaccines. I learned later that he participated in most, if not all, of the clinics we had on campus."

In addition to his role as Dean, Dr. Petros serves in executive positions at the West Virginia University Cancer Institute. His 40-year career in pharmacy is expansive. He has worked in numerous areas of the profession, including community, hospital, and ambulatory pharmacy; clinical research; and pharmaceutical consulting. Dr. Petros has held teaching and research positions at Duke University, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and The University of Tennessee.

Dr. Petros has many professional affiliations and serves on multiple boards and committees. Over the years, he has been recognized by those affiliations for his hard work and dedication to the pharmacy profession. Most recently, he received the 2021 Beal Award from the West Virginia Pharmacy Association and the 2020 Ohio Marshall County Pharmacists Association Pharmacist of the Year.

Dr. Petros received a BS in Pharmacy from WVU and a PharmD from the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Sciences. He trained as a research fellow with St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

The Outstanding Dean Award is part of the 2023 APhA Awards and Honors Program, a comprehensive recognition program in pharmacy. The American Pharmacists Association, founded in 1852, is the first-established professional society of pharmacists in the United States. The association comprises more than 62,000 practicing pharmacists, pharmaceutical scientists, student pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, and others interested in the profession.