Dispensing Good Advice
Professor picks up national advising award
By Erin Garrett
f Mary Claire Jarrell could use just one word to describe David McCaffrey, a University of Mississippi professor of pharmacy administration, it would be "encouraging."
"Throughout my tenure at Ole Miss, Dr. McCaffrey has been my support system and the one faculty member I knew I could go to with any question or concern," said Jarrell, a pharmacy student in her first professional year. "It is very noticeable that Dr. McCaffrey loves his job and the people he is surrounded by on a daily basis. He makes his students feel like they are the most important thing in his day."
For these reasons, among others, McCaffrey was awarded an Outstanding Faculty Advising Certificate of Merit from the National Academic Advising Association.
"I became a pharmacist in order to help people," McCaffrey said. "While my career changed from pharmacy practice to academia, my desire to help people did not. Academic advising is a natural extension of what I love doing – interacting with and helping people."
McCaffrey received his award in early October at NACADA's annual conference in Nashville.
"I felt humbled by my selection at Ole Miss, and this feeling was magnified at the NACADA conference," McCaffrey said. "I had an opportunity to meet so many dedicated and talented faculty and professional staff who provide incredible advising service to students."
McCaffrey has been advising Ole Miss students for 16 years. He began advising pharmaceutical marketing and management students in the pharmacy administration department in 1996, and added pre-pharmacy advising in 2000.
"Dr. McCaffrey serves multiple roles within the School of Pharmacy," said Lindsay Hieser, a fourth-year professional pharmacy student. "Once I had the opportunity to see him in his role as engaging instructor, and as an advocate for patient care in the community, I was able to understand what made him an outstanding adviser: He cares about students, and he is passionately committed to everything he does."
McCaffrey has a great deal of advice for current and prospective pharmacy students.
"I try to stick to two advising principles: honesty and motivation," McCaffrey said. "Because the pre-pharmacy curriculum is so challenging, students sometimes become discouraged and need to be reminded that they are talented and have what it takes to succeed.
"My best advice to students is for them to treat their education as if it were a regular day job. In order to succeed, students must get up, get ready and get out of their dorm or apartment. Just because you do not have a class does not mean that you are 'off the job.' If they commit to their job as a student, they will be surprised by how much time they have to commit to their college experience. The opposite is rarely true."
Michael Warren, clinical assistant professor of pharmacy practice, nominated McCaffrey for the award.
"Dr. McCaffrey's understanding of the entire university system makes him a great adviser in every sense of the word," Warren said. "He has good working relationships across other departments on campus, and this attribute is of great benefit when a problem occurs and a helpful solution is needed.
"Academic advising is not a quick and easy activity. Dr. McCaffrey certainly does not treat it as such; he spends an extraordinary amount of time in giving his students the soundest advice possible, and he enhances the entire School of Pharmacy advising network by making certain everyone is on the same page and has appropriate knowledge to help improve our chances of successfully helping each and every student."
McCaffrey credits his colleagues for his success as an adviser.
"I would be remiss if I did not mention the advising team compiled at UM and in the School of Pharmacy," he said. "We have a network of advisers on the UM campus who share successes and failures, which strengthens our collective advising efforts. Moreover, I have outstanding advising colleagues in the School of Pharmacy and have benefited greatly from the support provided by Dr. Marvin Wilson, the associate dean for academic and student affairs, and his staff."