Graduate School

The University of Mississippi

Pharmacy professor receives teaching and mentoring award

Story by Tyler Carter

John Bentley is a professor of pharmacy administration and a research professor in the Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences. Bentley received his B.S. in pharmacy and M.B.A. from Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, in 1993, and his M.S. (1996) and Ph.D. (1998) in pharmacy administration from the University of Mississippi. Bentley joined the faculty at the University of Mississippi in 1998 as an assistant professor of pharmacy administration.

Bentley’s career path following his initial academic appointment might be a little different than others according to him.

“Two of the courses I was assigned to teach when I joined the faculty at the University of Mississippi were graduate courses in applied statistics (intermediate and multivariate statistics). Although I (and some others) thought I was providing instruction at an above average level, I realized after several years of teaching these courses that my foundation in statistics needed some work. I was able to teach people what to do with respect to analyzing a dataset, but I struggled with explaining why. So in an effort to update my knowledge and skills, I started taking some mathematics courses (the undergraduate calculus sequence and matrix algebra) at the University of Mississippi. This helped not only prepare me for future study in statistics, but encouraged me to look a little closer at my own teaching style and habits. After completing these courses, I enrolled in a graduate program in biostatistics at the School of Public Health at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB).”

Bentley was awarded the Graduate School Teaching and Mentorship Award by the Graduate School based on his efforts in and out of the classroom. Receiving this award is “humbling” according to Bentley.

“I was truly honored by this recognition. It was also quite a bit humbling. I certainly do not do what I do for awards and recognition. I really enjoy working with graduate students – it is challenging and I am always learning something. I am fortunate to have worked with some truly outstanding graduate students both in my home department and also in several other departments across campus. These students are intellectually curious, driven, persistent, and highly capable. To be recognized for doing something well that you really enjoy doing is special. It is also motivating. As academicians, we sometimes wonder what kind of impact we are actually having as it can be difficult to measure in many aspects of our work.”

Earning an award such as this one requires fellow colleagues and students to appreciate everything you bring to the table and Bentley thinks his students and colleagues appreciates his passion for his craft.

“I would like to think it is because of the dedication, enthusiasm, and passion I show in my work in addition to what I bring to the table in terms of knowledge and skills. Perhaps it’s because I openly recognize that we are always learning and should always be learning… no one knows everything. Learning is a never-ending process. It could be because I would like for students to say that I have high standards, that I expect excellence in my work and in the work of others, and that I hold myself and others accountable. But to be honest, I am not quite sure… you would have to ask them.”

Bentley is proud of what the Department of Pharmacy Administration has accomplished thus far.

“The Department of Pharmacy Administration at the University of Mississippi is one of the oldest graduate programs of its kind in the country, offering quality graduate education for almost 50 years. There was already a rich tradition when I arrived here, thanks to people like Dr. Mickey Smith and Dr. Dewey Garner. I would like think that we have built on that tradition. We have a very productive and collegial working environment. I am fortunate to have a department chair and faculty colleagues who are very supportive of each other, enjoy working together, and highly value graduate education. We all contribute to the teaching, research, and service missions of the department, school, and university. We have had and continue to have outstanding graduate students, who are working to find answers to interesting questions, who support each other, are very interested in learning, and are active members of their professions and communities. I am also proud of the relationships that we have developed over the years with other departments and programs on this campus. Our School of Business Administration has been especially supportive of our graduate students and I have had the pleasure of working with students from a variety of departments and schools on campus, including marketing, management information systems, finance, political science, psychology, accountancy, education, and health, exercise science, and recreation management.”

Outside of work, Bentley is an avid baseball fan and he and his wife are especially fond of the Ole Miss Baseball Program. Bentley and his wife Sandy travel to the SEC Baseball Tournament every year and for the past five years or so, they have made the trip to Omaha, NE for the College World Series. This past June made the trip to Omaha more special as the Rebels made it to the CWS for the first time since 1972. The Graduate School is pleased to highlight Dr. Bentley for his great work in the Department of Pharmacy Administration!