While he was a pharmacy student at the University of the Pacific, Lawrence (LB) Brown had a serendipitous conversation over coffee with Stephen Schondelmeyer, Professor and Head of the Department of Pharmaceutical Care & Health Systems.
Brown was serving as Speaker of the House for the APhA Academy of Student Pharmacists, and one of his mentors introduced him to Schondelmeyer.
At the end of the conversation, Schondelmeyer asked Brown a simple and profound question: “What do you want to do with the rest of your life?”
Brown said, “I want to be at the big tables where decisions are being made on how to improve patient care and the profession.”
In 2003, Brown earned a doctorate degree in Social and Administrative Pharmacy from the University of Minnesota. Since then, Brown’s distinguished career, which began with six years in the U.S. Air Force as a pharmacy technician, has included teaching, research and leadership positions in academia, as well as serving as Fellow, Trustee, Speaker of the House and President of the American Pharmacists Association.
While completing his doctorate, Brown was recruited by the Dean of the University of Tennessee College of Pharmacy in Memphis. He served in a number of leadership roles at UT including Vice Chair of the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Chair of the Health Outcomes and Policy Research Division, Director of Graduate Studies in Health Outcomes and Policy Research, and Director of the UT Center for Medication Therapy Management.
Today, Brown serves as Professor and Associate Dean of Student Affairs at Chapman University in Irvine, Calif.
“I have many memories of my time in Minnesota,” said Brown. “Once a week, the graduate students gathered at Sally’s for some fun, great conversation and friendly debates.”
Brown especially remembers the time with a fellow doctorate student in his cohort, Richard Hansen, who today serves as the Dean of the Harrison School of Pharmacy at Auburn University.
Another favorite memory of his time at the college is his serving as the interim advisor for Kappa Psi fraternity.
“What a great group of students,” said Brown. “At the beginning of chapter meetings, each brother would go around the room and talk about what was going on with them—their struggles, positive things, challenges. Coming from a military background, I didn’t really get it at first, but after spending a couple of years with this group I saw how valuable that sharing process was for creating an environment of trust.” Even today, Brown starts off his staff meetings using this tactic to help maintain a bond among his team.
Brown’s advice to pharmacy students today is to create your own opportunities.
“I achieved what I have over the years because of the mentors I’ve had along the way”
“Think about how you can make things better than the way you found them,” he said. “It’s not always about the title, but the position that allows you to make a positive change for an organization.”
He also advises students to understand the value of mentorship.
“I achieved what I have over the years because of the mentors I’ve had along the way,” said Brown. “It’s so important to reach back and help others. You can’t do it alone.”