Ablordeppey isn’t a one-man show as interim dean of FAMU’s school of pharmacy

Seth Ablordeppey likes to engage his staff and faculty in decision making.
Photo by St. Clair Murraine



By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook staff writer

Seth Ablordeppey doesn’t know if he will be the one chosen to permanently run FAMU’ School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Science.
He just wouldn’t think that far because it could be another year before the search is completed.

Ablordeppey’s goal in his second go around as interim dean is clear, though.

“We are going to do everything that is necessary for our students to do well,” he said during a recent interview with the Capital Outlook. “My philosophy as the dean is to create opportunities for my faculty (and) my students to do well in their areas of expertise.

“I want to do the very best I can so that everybody will try because when everybody tries, the college of pharmacy thrives.”
Especially when it comes to the students and the grades students make in the NAPLEX exam. They’ve been his priority since being appointed interim dean in May.

Following first-try testing results last year that were the poorest in the country, Ablordeppey’s push for improvement turned out a class of graduates who averaged 83.3 percent on their first try between May and August. Last year FAMU’s students had a passage rate of 62.81 percent.

So when he replaced former dean Michael Thompson, Ablordeppey’s made it his mission to not only improve scores, but faculty morale in the school. He had the right management style to get that done, said Marlon Honeywell, executive associate dean.

“He is a phenomenal man. He has always had open-door policies and he has been engaging  faculty, staff and students,” said Honeywell. “He treats everyone the same.

“It means a lot to faculty (and) staff to have a leader who would do that.”

The reason is simple, said Ablordeppey, who is known for asking his staff about the wellbeing of their families. He is also known for including faculty and staff when making decisions on changes and policies.

For example, when he wanted to put more emphasis on students’ science GPA as part of the school of pharmacy’s admission process, one of his faculty  suggested that there should be more, making a case for adding communication skills as well.

They debated it and concluded that the students’ ability to communicate will be considered along with the science GPA.

It’s usually easy to go along with the ideas brought to the table by his faculty  and staff, said Ablordeppey, 64.

“If you provide me with the evidence, I yield to you,” he said. “I defer to them in terms of their expertise. If there is an issue, we put the issue on the table (and) we debate it, take a vote. Whichever way it goes that’s the way it goes.

“I don’t mind that my opinion has changed because somebody had put another opinion that is better than mine.”

Never mind that he has an impressive resume that includes  being one of three who established the pharmacy school at the University of Lagos in Nigeria.

And the list goes on: Joseph Sam Distinguished Alumnus  Award in recognition  of outstanding contribution in the field of medicinal chemistry; FAMU Research Excellence Award; Researcher of the Year, COPPS.

Add to that being the recipient of the U.S. State Department Award as a Fulbright Fellow to Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology.

Ablordeppey’s management tact is the same style he used when he was first called to step in as interim in 2011, following the departure of then-dean Henry Lewis to become president of Florida Memorial University.

“In particular,” he said, “I wanted to elevate the board scores as a way of uniting the faculties. We had a problem and we have put our focus on that to solve it.”

Ablordeppey is constantly monitoring the curriculum to insure that FAMU is in line with performance expectations across the country. He’s also put in place a prep exam that’s more in line with the NAPLEX testing guidelines.

Despite his qualifications, Ablordeppey  said he isn’t making a push to stay on permanently. Meanwhile, he’ll keep pushing for changes to raise the standard in the school of pharmacy.

“When I’m called to do something and the provost and president feel I could do what is needed, I yield to that,” he said. “That’s what I did this time around.”

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