Dean James O'Donnell

Published October 14, 2020

Dear University Community:

We are writing to share with you that Dean James O’Donnell has informed us of his intention to step down as dean of the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, effective at the end of the current academic year, and return to a faculty role as Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Pharmacology and Toxicology. Jim has been a dedicated dean, advancing each of UB’s teaching, research, and engagement missions. He will leave the school well poised to build on this success for years to come. We will commence a search for the next School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences dean later this semester and plan to have new leadership determined by the end of Spring 2021.

Jim joined UB as dean in 2013 from West Virginia University, where he served as associate dean for research in the School of Medicine and assistant vice president for health sciences research. During his seven years of leadership at UB, the school’s US News and World Report ranking has significantly improved, up from 22 to 14, and the school’s enrollment has remained strong despite increasing competition in New York State.

This success and recognition has come about as a result of strong hiring and increased national recognition of faculty. Jim has been dedicated to attracting world-class faculty, with the support of the SUNY Empire Innovation Program and UB Disciplinary Excellence initiative, and to enabling their success. Under his leadership, the school enhanced its faculty development and mentoring programs and substantially improved the promotion process for clinical faculty. In addition, the school introduced an organized effort to increase faculty recognition and grant application submissions. In cooperation with UB’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute, the school established a research pharmacy to support clinical trials. These efforts have led to a significant increase in the number of external awards and grants School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences faculty have received, as well as the appointment of two new SUNY Distinguished Professors and one UB Distinguished Professor.

As dean, Jim has been committed to providing high quality, innovative education in pharmacy and pharmaceutical sciences, preparing graduates for success and leadership in their fields. Under his leadership, the school launched a master’s degree in Pharmacometrics and Personalized Pharmacotherapy, one of only a few in the country, and added micro-credential programs focused on improving competencies in data analysis, clinical and translational research, and application of enhanced patient care principles and leadership. In addition, the school has increased student opportunities for global engagement and identified new collaborations with sites for experiential education. In partnership with UB’s other health sciences schools, the school has established an excellent interprofessional education program that prepares professional students to be collaborative-practice ready when they enter the workforce.

Finally, Jim is leading an ongoing comprehensive campaign for the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences to raise funds to support the school’s programs and students, recruit and support excellent faculty, and increase opportunities for students, faculty and staff to engage the larger scientific and professional communities, as well as positively influence local and global communities. This campaign has resulted in the establishment of the school’s first two endowed chairs.

An internationally recognized expert in molecular and translational neuroscience, Jim is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology. He has served on NIH review panels in the neuroscience and drug discovery areas, including serving as founding chair of the Pathophysiological Basis of Mental Disorders and Addictions study section, and as associate editor of the prestigious Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics.

For more information, please see the UB Now story.

Colleagues, please join us in thanking Jim for his leadership and service as dean of the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences and in wishing him continued success as he returns to the faculty.



A. Scott Weber
Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs

Michael E. Cain, M.D.
Vice President for Health Sciences and Dean of the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences