March 10, 2016

Department of Drug Discovery
and Biomedical Sciences
March 10, 2016
Dear Dean of USC College of Pharmacy Search Committee:
With this letter I express my strong interest in the position of Dean of the University of South Carolina
(USC) College of Pharmacy. I believe that I have the appropriate experience and leadership skills to guide
the USC College of Pharmacy to become one of the premier Colleges of Pharmacy in the country where it
will be recognized for providing an exceptional PharmD educational experience for its students, provide
its graduates with unique opportunities both for well-compensated employment and for developing their
entrepreneurial ambitions (thanks to the Kennedy Center that exists only at the USC College of
Pharmacy), and will be renowned nationally for its cutting edge research programs. I will describe my
professional experiences that position me uniquely to lead the USC College of Pharmacy, continue its 150
year tradition of providing outstanding education to our PharmD students, and producing the most highly
qualified and sought after graduates for pharmacy positions in South Carolina. In addition, I believe I
have the vision, leadership, and decision-making abilities to promote new educational and academic
innovations within our College so that our PharmD students are prepared to embrace the entrepreneurial
and health care delivery opportunities and challenges that will be available to the next generation of
pharmacists, as the profession rapidly changes over the next decade. I conclude with my vision for the
USC College of Pharmacy and discuss what I believe are its strengths, along with some challenges that
the College is likely to face in the coming years.
Academic Overview and History. I have been on the faculty at USC and a member of the Carolina
family for almost 29 years, with the last 6 years first as Vice-Chair and then Interim Chair of the
Department of Drug Discovery and Biomedical Sciences (DDBS) in the College of Pharmacy. After
receiving my Ph.D. degree at Purdue University and conducting postdoctoral studies at Washington
University School of Medicine and the National Cancer Institute, I began as an Assistant Professor in the
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at USC in 1987. I developed an independent, extramurally
funded, research program in the area of human papillomavirus (HPV)-mediated transformation and taught
biochemistry to both undergraduate and medical students. Following tenure and promotion to Associate
Professor in 1993, I moved my academic appointment to the School of Medicine (SOM) to serve as the
Director of the Children’s Cancer Research Laboratory in the Department of Pediatrics, with a joint
appointment in the Department of Pathology. I was promoted to Professor in 1998. In 2002 I became a
full time Professor in the Department of Pathology, Microbiology, and Immunology at the SOM. In early
2010 I was asked to consider applying for the position of Vice-Chair in the DDBS in the South Carolina
College of Pharmacy (SCCP), which I did. This was an internal search (within USC) with the goal of
bringing senior leadership to DDBS to further enhance the research activity and intramural funding for the
Department. I was offered and began this position in May of 2010 and was promoted to Interim Chair of
DDBS in July 2015.
SCCP/USC Campus • Coker Life Sciences Building • 715 Sumter Street • Columbia, SC 29209
803/777-8440 • FAX 803/777-0410 •
Research Leadership. Over my entire academic experience at USC I have maintained an extramurally
funded and internationally recognized research program in the field of HPV-mediated transformation and
health disparities of HPV-mediated disease. These studies, conducted in collaboration with Dr. Lucia
Pirisi-Creek (SOM-Columbia), Dr. Saundra Glover (Arnold School of Public Health), and many others
have together garnered over $20 M in intramural and extramural support over the years. Of particular note
is that I was co-leader with Dr. Saundra Glover on a 10 year P20 center grant award of about $14.4 M
from the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities/National Institutes of Health (20052015) which focused on health disparities in HPV-mediated cancer and HIV. I have authored/co-authored
95 publications in peer reviewed journals and over 140 abstracts that were presented at national and
international scientific meetings. My leadership in research has been recognized via the following awards;
Breakthrough Leadership in Research Award (USC, 2014), Educational Foundation Award for Research
in the Health Sciences (USC, 2014), Carolina Trustee Professorship Award (USC, 2006), University of
South Carolina School of Medicine Research Advancement Award (1999), and Co-Recipient (with Lucia
Pirisi-Creek) of the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Basic Science Research Award
I also have a very strong interest in graduate education and training of Ph.D. students. A total of 17
students have received their Ph.D. degree under my mentorship. I have served on the Graduate Advisory
Committee of 65 students that have been awarded their graduate degrees.
Leadership Experiences. I have always taken an active role in administrative and committee service at
the Department, College, and University levels. These have been important experiences which provided
many opportunities to hone my leadership and communication skills, as many of these committees took
on challenging problems and issues. Over the years I have taken on service assignments of greater
responsibility and have chaired numerous committees. I enjoy the challenges of leading committees and
am often asked to do so. I have a history of being able to keep committees on task and build consensus. I
listen carefully and allow all committee members to provide input, and then just get things done. Some
examples of my service include the following; I chaired several faculty search committee’s for the
Department of Pathology, Microbiology, and Immunology at the SOM (2007-2009), I chaired the SOM
Health and Safety Committee (1995-1998), the Faculty Research Award Subcommittee (1996-1998), the
Environmental/Hazardous Waste Committee (1998-2000), the Strategic Planning Committee for Funding
for the Graduate Program, the Strategic Planning Committee for Funding Faculty Recruitment (19992000), the Library Committee (1999-2001), and the Clinical Unit Tenure and Promotion Committee
(2001-2002). At the University level I have chaired the Radiation Safety Committee (1995-1997) and the
Health and Safety Oversight Committee (1996-2003). I have also served on the University Committee on
Tenure and Promotion (UCTP) three times (2003-2006, 2008, and 2013-2015), co-chaired the Faculty
Research Counsel (2006-2008) and am currently the chair of the Educational Foundation Award for
Research in Health Sciences Committee. While in Pharmacy I have chaired the unit Tenure and
Promotion Committee (2011-2015) and also served as Director of Graduate Studies (2010-2012). Having
had the privilege to serve and lead such a wide variety of committees over the years has given me
extensive knowledge of the inner workings of the University and how it operates and functions. This
understanding is critical for making sound decisions and being effective and efficient in getting things
accomplished. This experience I believe is invaluable and will allow me to effectively lead the College of
Pharmacy and accomplish the goals that we set out for the College.
SCCP/USC Campus • Coker Life Sciences Building • 715 Sumter Street • Columbia, SC 29209
803/777-8440 • FAX 803/777-0410 •
In 2014-2015, I was selected as a member and successfully completed the inaugural class of the Pipeline
for Academic Leaders (PAL) Program at USC. This year-long program provided me a fantastic
opportunity to further refine my leadership skills and interact with and learn from a cadre of rising leaders
from across the University.
Leadership and Accomplishments as Vice-Chair and Interim Chair of DDBS. By far the most
relevant experiences and best examples of the leadership that I would bring to the Dean of Pharmacy
position are those that I have accomplished over the past 6 years, first as Vice-Chair (May 2010-July
2015) and then as Interim Chair of DDBS (July 2015-present). I believe that the Department has enjoyed
considerable success over the past 6 years. Furthermore, I also believe that my leadership and strong
decision making capabilities have contributed in many ways to those successes. In May of 2010 I joined a
Department of 11 tenured/tenure-track faculty which has now grown to 17 tenured/tenure-track faculty,
growth of about 50%. We have recruited 8 new faculty, including; a SmartState Chair in Translational
Cancer Therapeutics (TCT) and a junior faculty associated with the TCT program, a Faculty Excellence
Initiative (FEI) hire, a Faculty Replenishment Initiative (FRI) hire in pharmacogenomics, a spousal hire in
neuropharmacology, a replacement hire in personalized medicine, and in 2016 we just completed the
recruitment of 2 new tenure-track Assistant Professors as part of Dr. Roninson’s COBRE Center for
Targeted Therapeutics (CTT). During the same period faculty retention has been excellent, we lost only
three faculty (one retirement, one resignation, and one unexpected death). Seven of these recent hires
came with substantial recurring salary support from the Provost’s Office bringing into the College
additional resources of about $605,000 annually, along with one-time start-up commitments of about $1.8
M. I point this out to illustrate my effectiveness and skills in finding opportunities to build the
Department, developing appropriate plans, negotiating support from the administration, and bringing
these opportunities to fruition in a way that is of great value to the Department and College. As a Dean I
strongly believe I can provide the same leadership and style that was very effective at the Department
level to promote and foster an exceptional PharmD educational experience for our students, along with
enhancing the research enterprise and continued growth of the entire USC College of Pharmacy.
Under my departmental leadership the faculty have had considerable success in their career advancement
as measured through promotion and tenure. Specifically, two faculty have been promoted to Professor,
two have received promotions to Associate Professor, and four junior faculty have received tenure. Three
of the faculty I recruited were hired with tenure. When I joined DDBS in 2010, we had no Research Track
Faculty, and now we have seven Research Assistant Professors. One of the most important duties of a
Department Chair is to provide the support, mentorship, and environment for faculty to be successful, in
particular junior faculty. I take this very seriously and so far, under my leadership, all junior faculty in
DDBS that have applied for tenure have been successful.
Faculty success in terms of NIH and other extramural grant funding since my appointment in 2010 has
been impressive, especially given the extreme competitiveness of NIH funding at this time. Some
examples include three new NIH R01 grants, two NIH R21 awards, two NIH R15 grants, one NIH U01
award, one NIH R00 grant, an NIH P20 COBRE grant, and an NIH P20 CCE-SPHERE award. In
addition, start-up companies founded by DDBS faculty (Senex Biotechnology and PPI Pharmaceuticals)
have received NIH SBIR/STTR awards. Annual extramural funding for DDBS (Columbia) has risen from
about $1.5 M in 2009 to $3.9 M in 2015. In the latest rankings released by the American Association of
SCCP/USC Campus • Coker Life Sciences Building • 715 Sumter Street • Columbia, SC 29209
803/777-8440 • FAX 803/777-0410 •
Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP), SCCP moved up from 23rd (2013 ranking) to 11th (2014 ranking) of all
Pharmacy Schools in terms of total NIH research funds.
I am extremely pleased about the accomplishments of DDBS in the six-year period I have had the
privilege to lead the Department. These successes have had a major impact on faculty morale, faculty
cohesiveness, faculty productivity, faculty collaboration and cooperation, faculty retention, and overall
quality of the Department. DDBS is now a team of scholars poised to educate pharmacy students with
information at the cutting edge. I believe that most DDBS faculty are excited to be a part of positive
change within a growing and dynamic department. It has been very exciting and rewarding for me to
contribute to these accomplishments. I am excited about leading the entire College and confident we will
have similar results College-wide.
My Vision for the USC College of Pharmacy. The Dean must always keep in mind that our mission is
to provide an exceptional professional educational experience to our PharmD students. Every decision
must be made with this mission in mind and everything we do must enhance the educational experience of
our PharmD students. The next Dean of the USC College of Pharmacy will not be taking the reins of a
College in trouble or in decline; in fact it is quite the opposite. The USC College of Pharmacy is strong,
we provide the best pharmacy education in the state and graduate the best and most highly sought after
pharmacists. Our students perform well on the NAPLEX exam, with pass rates greater than 95%. Our four
year graduation rate is 91% and our graduating student satisfaction is 97%. However, this does not mean
that we cannot do better and that we, as a College, do not face important challenges going forward. We
will need to build on our strengths and recognize and plan ahead to face future challenges. Leadership
always needs to be proactive and not reactive. Our strengths are our faculty, our students, and our alumni.
The College has exceptional faculty to teach our pharmacy students. In fact, a Clinical Pharmacy and
Outcomes Science (CPOS) faculty member has won the University-wide Clinical Practice Teaching
Award each of the past five years that the award has been offered. However, we need to make sure that
our teaching methodologies are keeping up with the rapid changes in professional education and we must
incentivize and reward those faculty that excel in teaching. Our basic science group in DDBS is also very
strong, an excellent cohesive mixture of junior, mid-career, and senior faculty. Most DDBS faculty have
active extramurally funded research programs that are nationally recognized.
The most immediate challenge for the next Dean will be to lead the College through the transition process
of moving from the joint SCCP accreditation to being reaccredited by the Accreditation Council for
Pharmacy Education (ACPE) as the USC College of Pharmacy. I am in a great position to lead this
transition. I have been part of the SCCP leadership for the past 6 years and am already working closely
with the current Dean and his team, as we seek ACPE permission to enter a USC College of Pharmacy
class in August 2016. However, as we return to our legacy program, we must continue to complete the
current SCCP classes and provide these pharmacy students the same high quality educational experience
that SCCP has provided over the past decade. I have a very positive and productive working relationship
with our MUSC based colleagues, which will be a great asset to leading this transition and making it
happen as smoothly as possible. The return of the USC College of Pharmacy is an exciting time. We have
the opportunity as a College to collectively reexamine our mission, core values, and goals as a College as
well as reconnect with our alumni and friends. I look forward as Dean to lead the College in this journey.
Another challenge we face is a declining pool of PharmD applicants, which is a problem nation-wide. We
will need to develop strategies to enhance interest in the pharmacy profession and build more connections
SCCP/USC Campus • Coker Life Sciences Building • 715 Sumter Street • Columbia, SC 29209
803/777-8440 • FAX 803/777-0410 •
to high school students who are at the formative stages of making college and career choices. We have an
excellent story to tell, as virtually all our graduates find well-paying jobs and, through the Kennedy
Center, we are working to open new venues to channel the energy and entrepreneurial ambitions of new
It is extremely important for the College to plan for the future. As a College we have outgrown our space,
much of which is of very poor quality. Although we have two newly renovated large lecture-style
classrooms we lack space for smaller group style instruction, which is an impediment to adopting more
modern active styles of teaching and learning. Furthermore, the compounding laboratory and our basic
science research laboratories are not of modern quality. For example, I know firsthand that faculty
research productivity in DDBS suffers from the challenges of laboratories that do not even meet the basic
needs for modern basic science research. Air quality is poor, heating and air-conditioning wildly fluctuate,
stable and sufficient electrical power is problematic, and the basic design of the laboratories is that of old
teaching laboratories. We must strategically plan for the future and make sure Pharmacy is well heard
during ongoing discussions at USC concerning building a new Health Sciences Complex. If this does not
happen, at a minimum, plans need to be made and resources identified for a floor by floor renovation of
our current pharmacy space. I strongly feel that if we do not address our teaching and research space
needs and do not modernize our College’s physical infrastructure we will ultimately face challenges in
student recruitment and faculty retention.
I believe a Dean does not lead by him/herself. Rather the Dean leads by forming a strong and interactive
leadership team, which advises the Dean resulting in the best decision making. We currently have strong
leadership in key positions including Academic Affairs, Student Affairs, and Experiential Programs. An
area I believe needs addressing is developing a leadership team position in Assessment and Accreditation.
The USC College of Pharmacy currently lacks senior positons in Communications, Outreach and
Engagement. We will need some leadership in this area to strongly promote our rebranding as the USC
College of Pharmacy. The latest (2012) ranking of SCCP as 48th by the US News and World Report is
clearly out of whack. We are much better than that, I believe the problem is one of communication and
“not getting our story out”. Unlike most research intensive Pharmacy Schools, we do not have a senior
leadership position in Research and Graduate Education. I would bring much experience in these areas.
In conclusion, I believe that I have a proven record of effective and productive leadership as the Vice
Chair and Chair of DDBS. I have a strong desire to use this experience and knowledge as the next Dean
of the USC College of Pharmacy, to lead the College into the future so that it becomes one of the top
Colleges of Pharmacy in the country. I look forward to the opportunity of discussing further my
credentials and vision for the Dean position with the Search Committee.
Respectfully submitted,
Kim E. Creek, Ph.D.
Professor and Interim-Chair
SCCP/USC Campus • Coker Life Sciences Building • 715 Sumter Street • Columbia, SC 29209
803/777-8440 • FAX 803/777-0410 •