Russell Melchert, Ph.D., the new interim dean of the School of Dentistry, said he was honored to serve the school untill a permanent replacement is found for Dean Marsha Pyle, who retired Sept. 1.
“The School of Dentistry has been a prominent part of my life for decades,” said Melchert, who has been dean of the School of Pharmacy since 2010. “Not only have I received dental care from faculty for the 10 years I have been at UMKC, but UMKC alumni cared for me for a good part of my life growing up in western Kansas. So, I have had a tremendous amount of respect for the school.”
Melchert said his regard for the school grew even stronger in the past five years while he has taught the Pharmacology and Therapeutics 1 course in the dental program.
“Through that experience, and my involvement with interprofessional education efforts, I quickly grew a great appreciation and tremendous amount of respect for the outstanding students in the school,” he said. “They have taught me a lot and will continue to do so, no doubt.”
Before coming to UMKC, Melchert was a professor and chair of the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Arkansas. He earned his B.S. in pharmacy and Ph.D. in pharmaceutical sciences from the University of Oklahoma and was a National Institute of Environmental Health post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Texas.
“The School of Dentistry is so important to UMKC, to the UM System, to the state of Missouri and region from many different aspects,” he said. “As the state’s only publicly supported dental program, our mission of educating future dentists, hygienists, specialists, and scientists is all the more critical.”
Melchert is well known in academic circles. He is the immediate past chair of the Council of Deans of the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy. His research has been financed by the Department of Defense and National Institutes of Health, and he has published many scholarly works in pharmacology, toxicology and pharmacy education. He has received more than 20 awards from students for his teaching in pharmacology.
Speaking of students, Melchert and his wife of 31 years, Stephanie, are very proud of their two UMKC Roo children: Philip, who graduated with his Pharm.D. in 2020, and Sarah, who is a senior student in the School of Education studying elementary education.
“I very much look forward to getting to know the students, staff and faculty much better,” Melchert said, “and to continuing my efforts at being a good partner, friend, and great advocate for the school.”