Associate Professor, Department of Pharmaceutical & Administrative Sciences, Western New England University; Age 37
Professor Dan Kennedy is one of eight founding faculty members of Western New England University’s College of Pharmacy, a dream come true for a guy who’d always wanted to teach.
“I grew up in a family of teachers, and my mom was a principal,” he noted. “You might say it was pre-scripted.”
Before joining WNEU, he taught science at Emmanuel College while completing a post-doctoral fellowship at Harvard Medical School. When he got the chance to help build a program from the ground up, he moved west. “It was a great opportunity to not only take on roles that normally come later in a career, but also work with a diverse group of academics ranging from engineers to arts professors, which is something you don’t always experience.”
Kennedy said getting the program up and running was a professional high, but what means most to him is shaping the student experience.
“I’ve been amazed to see the growth and maturity of the students,” he said. “Seeing them develop is really rewarding.”
He also says it’s now rare to go into an area pharmacy and not run into a student or graduate, noting that “it demonstrates the impact the young program is having in the health field here.” The college is set to graduate its third class this spring.
Kennedy is the author of two patents and a third patent application. He’s also heavily involved with the American Assoc. of Colleges of Pharmacy, and serves on the editorial board of the American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education.
He is the faculty advisor to the Pharmacy Student Governance Assoc., which organizes an annual Day of Service to introduce students to community service. To date, hundreds have participated, visiting area nursing homes, animal shelters, and food kitchens. He also coaches softball and finds ample time for his wife and three children.
Kennedy is also an active researcher, and he’s mentored or co-mentored many students, almost all of whom have been involved in his research projects. The graduating class of 2015 recognized him with its Unsung Hero Award for going above and beyond helping, teaching, and mentoring. He also received the student-named Better Than Chuck Norris Award for making difficult subjects seem easy.
“What I try to instill in all my classes is that knowing isn’t enough,” he said. “You have to put things together to form the big picture and understand what’s happening.”