Allegheny Alumna Named Founding Dean for Admissions and Recruitment at Methodist University’s College of Medicine

Allegheny alumna, Dr. Rebecca Miller Wise ‘91, has been named Founding Dean for Admissions and Recruitment at Methodist University’s new Cape Fear Valley Health School of Medicine. Wise is a board-certified clinician in Geriatric Pharmacy with more than 30 years of experience in education with expertise in integrative medicine, medical cannabis, geriatric medication therapy management and patient education, medical entrepreneurialism, and higher education recruiting and enrollment.

Wise grew up exploring the Allegheny campus as a child after her father was hired as the ground’s foreman in 1978. His lengthy and rewarding career maintaining the College’s landscape culminated in a tree and memorial plaque located at the end of Brooks Drive in his honor.

“His favorite spot on campus as a landscaper was the bridge over the ravine with all the beautiful rhododendrons in bloom,” Wise recalls about her late father. “My favorite memory is when I had to do a leaf collection for my seventh grade science class, and I had over 200 specimens because of the choices on campus and his expert knowledge. He knew the name of every plant and its benefits and growing conditions needed. He was like an encyclopedia when it came to plants.”

After graduating from high school, Allegheny College was a natural next step for Wise, who majored in biology with a minor in psychology.

“Even though I was accepted to other colleges, I couldn’t have imagined going anywhere else,” Wise says. “At Allegheny, I learned that when many different kinds of people from diverse backgrounds, cultures, and beliefs all work together, brilliant ideas can emerge, and as a team, they are stronger with a better ability to affect positive change.”

Her experience at Allegheny laid the foundation for a future in healthcare and higher education. She counts her top memories during her undergraduate studies to include becoming a member and president of Tri-Beta Biological Honor Society, exploring the Missouri Botanical Gardens, studying for a semester at Duke University Marine Lab, and getting to present her Senior Comp at the Sigma Xi Scientific Research Honor Society conference.

After Allegheny, Wise received her master’s degree in education and worked as a high school science teacher while raising her family before eventually heading back to school for her doctorate in pharmacy.

“I was given an opportunity to lead the admissions and recruitment program for my alma mater and jumped at the chance to do that, and it was there that I met my current mentor and friend (and boss), Dr. Hershey Bell,” Wise says. “He invited me to join him in starting a new school in southeastern North Carolina.”

She has since worked to develop several ongoing programs, including: a medical cannabis task force to educate pharmacists about legislative changes and pharmacology of marijuana; a network of community pharmacies to teach local owners to extend their clinical impact in their neighborhoods; and a medical round-table education series for patients living in geriatric centers.

“The biggest reward comes from watching former students have a positive impact in their own lives and in the lives of their patients, especially those students who, like me, were disadvantaged and still persevered,” Wise says. “I hope to help improve the health disparities in my community by giving students who are from disadvantaged backgrounds a chance to become physicians. My mission is to help them change their lives for the better, and then they can change their patients’ lives for the better as well.”

Among her many career achievements, Wise is a member of Rho Chi, the national pharmacy honor society, and Phi Lambda Sigma, the national pharmacy leadership society, and she serves professionally in various capacities with several agencies including the PA Pharmacy Association, the American Heart Association, Boy Scouts of America, Boro Women and Family Services, and her church. She is also a multi-year award winner as teacher of the year and pharmacy preceptor of the year, as well as a finalist-nominee for PA Pharmacist of the Year and the Suzuki National Teacher of the Year.

For current students interested in the field of pharmacology, medical cannabis, and geriatric pharmacy, Wise says her advice is to never give up.

“The education needed to become a healthcare provider can seem too hard and never-ending, but when you display perseverance and then success, you can show your patients that overcoming challenges is possible, and they will trust you even more for it,” Wise says. “Then, to come back and teach a new generation of healthcare students all your lessons is the most fulfilling career ever. Stick with it. It’s worth it.”