Take a look around Cary Mobley’s first-floor office at the UF College of Pharmacy and there are signs of gratitude everywhere. Thank you cards from former students fill his desk — he keeps every one of them. Gifts from Thailand, South Korea and other international destinations hang on his walls and file cabinets — a show of appreciation from former Pharm.D. and graduate students. Party hats are displayed as well — a reminder of when students arrived for an exam wearing the hats in his honor.
In nearly 30 years of teaching, Mobley has accumulated quite a collection of mementos and honors — including recognition as the University of Florida College of Pharmacy’s 2021-22 Teacher of the Year. It’s the third time he has won the award, a testament to him continuously striving to do his best for the students.
“It’s an incredibly rewarding experience made possible by a loving family and years of continuous inspiration and gratitude from so many amazing colleagues and students,” said Mobley, a clinical associate professor of pharmaceutics. “I’m very grateful and honored the hard work put forth in teaching is recognized, valued and appreciated.”
Mobley’s impact on students can be seen throughout the curriculum. He teaches first-year drug delivery systems, skills lab, Putting Families First and patient care courses; second-year sterile compounding and patient care courses; third-year skills lab and patient care courses as well as an advanced compounding elective. He credits having a pharmacy background and Ph.D. for his ability and strong desire to bridge the gap between the basic and clinical sciences.
Mobley’s approach to teaching is centered on the concepts of benevolence, integration and skill cultivation, particularly critical thinking and clinical reasoning skills. He is committed to respecting diverse talents and different learning styles. He regularly reads literature on education, philosophy and cognitive psychology and strives to integrate what he learns from the literature, with feedback from students and colleagues, to optimize the student learning experience.
“Being an educator includes a never-ending quest to improve the learning experiences of students,” Mobley said.
He strives to create or contribute to learning experiences that recognize and respect the uniqueness of each student, encourages self-efficacy and teamwork and helps students further develop the knowledge, attitude and skills that can help them achieve their goals.
When Mobley steps into the classroom or lab with students, all other distractions “melt away,” and a state of flow emerges where he becomes immersed in the experience. He is working toward helping students also experience that state. Part of it includes projecting a welcoming aura where students feel uninhibited to express themselves and ask questions, and he tries to interact with them with a respectful and encouraging attitude.
It’s an approach to teaching that was inspired decades ago while coaching youth sports.
“In coaching youth sports, you have to find the right words of encouragement and find unique ways for the kids to feel good about themselves,” Mobley said. “It’s very similar to teaching. You have to try to inspire students to reach their full potential.”
When his family grew older, he found coaching his kids’ soccer and basketball teams as a great escape from the rigors of academia and a way to further develop his teaching style.
As the recipient of the Teacher of the Year award, Mobley is bestowed with the Paul Doering Excellence in Teaching Professor award. He will receive discretionary funds from the endowment as well as an honorarium. Mobley will use the title “Paul Doering Teaching Excellence Professor” during the upcoming academic year.
Exemplary Teacher Awards
Four faculty members won the Exemplary Teacher award. These winners are Teacher of the Year finalists who were judged by the curriculum committee to have exemplary teaching, as evidenced by a superior teaching portfolio.
Christina DeRemer – Christina DeRemer has made significant contributions to student learning in multiple courses, including 1PD Principles of Systems-Based Practice, 2PD Patient Care 4 and 5 courses, skills labs, the anticoagulation elective and her ambulatory care advanced pharmacy practice experiences, or APPE. DeRemer is dedicated to bringing real-world practice into the classroom. She strives to do this not only by creating contemporary and realistic activities and applications but also by bringing live patients into the classroom to enhance learning. Students describe her as a “rockstar,” and appreciate the high level of clinical expertise she brings to the classroom, serving as a role model of excellence for passionate, evidence-based, collaborative practice skills in ambulatory care pharmacy. DeRemer is engaged at the national level in conversations about billing for pharmacist clinical services, and her expertise in this area has allowed her to provide unique learning activities on this topic for the ambulatory care elective and APPEs. DeRemer has also been very engaged in mentoring learners in the clinical research process, working with over 30 Pharm.D. students in the last few years.
Robin Moorman Li – Robin Moorman Li’s teaching centers on inspiring learners to always “dig deeper,” with a primary focus on the development of clinical reasoning skills and an overarching goal of commitment to patient safety. Moorman Li is best known for teaching excellence in the area of pain management, and her teaching contributions include the Patient Care 1, Patient Care 6, and Principles of Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmacology II courses, as well as the Thinking Skills elective. Moorman Li has an avid interest in coaching, and along with completion of the Take Courage Coaching program, she has obtained board certification as a health and wellness coach. She readily applies the coaching techniques with students in the classroom to help improve their self-efficacy in conquering difficult subjects, such as the complexities of pain management. Students describe her incredible mentorship and coaching skills, stating, “Having her as a mentor has been the biggest blessing of my life.” Moorman Li is highly committed to continuous quality improvement in her teaching, and also to developing learning activities that require individual student accountability.
Joshua Pullo – Joshua Pullo’s experience as a community pharmacy manager allows him to bring real-world principles of practice and management into the Patient Care 1, Practice Management, Drug Delivery Systems and 1PD skills lab courses. His teaching in each of these courses is grounded in design principles and a commitment to transparency in learning. Using teaching and learning techniques such as retrieval practice and instant feedback, Pullo optimizes the learning environment through effective use of technology such as Socrative and Poll Everywhere to create engaging and memorable learning experiences. To promote transparency in learning, he outlines the teaching and learning methods used during each active learning session, and after lectures, he highlights activities students can perform to help retain information and elevate their learning. To launch 1PD students on a successful start, Pullo co-created a series of lectures for the Summer Enrichment Program that reviewed learning strategies such as elaboration, interleaving, and retrieval practice. Students describe Pullo as a faculty member who, “inspires me every day not only in the classroom but outside the classroom to be the best future pharmacist I can be for patients.”
Veena Venugopalan – Given her expertise in infectious disease, Veena Venugopalan’s teaching centers on promoting the safe and effective use of antimicrobials and antimicrobial stewardship to produce the next generation of pharmacists equipped with the skills and knowledge to provide the highest quality of care for patients with infectious diseases. In teaching Principles of Medical Microbiology, Immunology, and Virology (now merged with Patient Care 2), Patient Care 2, Patient Care 6, skills lab, and the infectious disease APPE, Venugopalan seeks to create self-directed lifelong learners by modeling behavior of an exemplary clinician with expertise in infectious disease. In 2021, Venugopalan received a grant from the Society of Infectious Diseases to develop an educational video centered on key components of workflow in the microbiology lab, including identification of pathogens, culture and susceptibility testing, and use of rapid diagnostic tools. After consulting the educational literature for the design and development of the educational video, she assessed the impact of the video with pre- and post-testing. Students acknowledge that her, “professionalism and vast amount of knowledge inspires me to be a better version of myself.”