Keith Olsen, Pharm.D., new College of Pharmacy dean

by Kalani Simpson, UNMC public relations | January 21, 2019

Image with caption: Keith Olsen, Pharm.D.

Keith Olsen, Pharm.D.

Keith Olsen, Pharm.D., the new dean of the College of Pharmacy, finds it "a bit surreal" to be back at UNMC.

Dr. Olsen is an alumnus and was on the UNMC faculty for two decades before serving as dean of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences College of Pharmacy the past three years.

It's good to be back home. But his time away, at Arkansas, was invaluable, Dr. Olsen said:

"I think the best thing that I could have done was to leave and come back, to get a better understanding of leadership, and directing a program, and how you would be inclusive. I've always said that administration is a team sport."

Dr. Olsen said he was blessed with an engaged executive team at Arkansas, and expects to assemble the same here.

He said he is proud of the growth the College of Pharmacy has made in the past 10 years.

Dr. Olsen hopes to continue that ascent in part with an emphasis on outreach and engagement. It's something he learned while at Arkansas, where he was expected to regularly interact with state leaders.

"It really, really prepares you to go out and meet with people. Friends, alumni, donors, politicians," Dr. Olsen said.

He plans to get out across the state, to enrich relationships with alumni and the Nebraska Pharmacists Association. In many cases he'll be seeing old friends.

"I went to school with a number of these people, I taught a lot of them. I worked for UNMC for almost 22 years," Dr. Olsen said.

Dr. Olsen said he will establish a dean's advisory board, to work toward more endowed faculty positions and a scholarship fund for students. He also wants to invigorate leadership in research, in order to give the college's talented scientists even more infrastructure to develop the one drug that could change everything.

He calls the strong clinical enterprise with the Nebraska Medicine pharmacy department "a gift."

He said he came back home in part because the opportunities here are endless.

"I've always said the most valuable resources you have are the faculty and students," Dr. Olsen said. "And it's the faculty you have, not the faculty you don't have. If you have a great faculty, you can do a lot of things with mediocre facilities.

"We just happen to have great facilities. And great faculty."


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Loïs Colburn
January 22, 2019 at 5:14 AM

Congratulations. Well deserved.

Keith D. Swarts
January 21, 2019 at 1:16 PM

Keith, Welcome back to Omaha and UNMC. You are a proven leader. Good luck and keep on running. Lincoln is less than 107 days out.

Tom O'Connor
January 21, 2019 at 10:57 AM

Welcome back to UNMC, Dr. Olsen. Know you'll do a great job for the College of Pharmacy!