Dr. Christopher Frei has just received the inaugural Outstanding Faculty Mentor Award from The University of Texas at Austin College of Pharmacy.
He serves as the Pharmacotherapy Division Head; one of five divisions in the UT Austin College of Pharmacy, and the only division located outside of Austin, in San Antonio. He also serves in several different capacities at the UT Health San Antonio Long School of Medicine and Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. He is the center director for the Pharmacotherapy Education and Research Center (PERC), program director for the multidisciplinary joint Translational Science Ph.D. Program, and co-program director for the TL1 Program.
The UT College of Pharmacy Faculty Mentoring Award is a new award established in 2020 to recognize and celebrate faculty mentors who help others navigate the path to becoming outstanding faculty members.
“I believe that the highest compliment one can give someone is to call them a ‘mentor.’ For this reason, I am truly honored and humbled to receive this award,” said Dr. Frei. “It causes me to reflect upon all the wonderful mentors I have had in my career. I will be writing many thank you notes in the coming days to make sure they know how much I appreciate their guidance throughout my career.”
Dr. Frei explained that faculty mentoring has been a big part of his academic life for many years. In addition to serving as a formal mentor for several faculty at UT Austin, he has also served as a formal mentor for faculty from other institutions on NIH Career Development (K) Awards, NIH Loan Repayment Awards, national grants for junior investigators, and other projects.
“As Chair of my College’s Faculty Development Committee for many years, I led the charge to develop a New Faculty Orientation, to ensure that our faculty members get off to a good start, and implement a required Faculty Mentoring policy, to ensure that our new faculty members receive ongoing guidance throughout their time as an Assistant Professor,” he said. “The policy resulted in a dramatic increase in the proportion of faculty who received mentoring at my institution. It also ensured that the mentoring interactions included certain elements that my college sees as critical for faculty development.
Dr. Kirk Evoy, in the Pharmacotherapy Division of the College of Pharmacy at The University of Texas at Austin, nominated Dr. Frei for this award.
“Chris has served as a tremendous example of what a selfless leader looks like and provided outstanding mentorship that has guided my leadership development. I am always so impressed with how well Chris leads our division as the Pharmacotherapy Division Head. Chris leads our division with an extremely strong work ethic, incredible efficiency, and a great vision for the future, and his level of openness and transparency is much appreciated. Despite his many responsibilities, he puts a great deal of time into ensuring the success of each member of our division and always serves as a strong advocate for our success. In my personal interactions with him as Division Head, I always appreciate the clear expectations he sets for me and the advice he provides on how to successfully achieve these goals. In this sense, his mentorship has impacted all areas of my professional development as a faculty member.”
Dr. Grace C. Lee, assistant professor in the Pharmacotherapy Division of the College of Pharmacy at The University of Texas at Austin, also recommended Dr. Frei because of the impact that his mentorship has had on her professional career.
“Over the past 15 years, he has served as a mentor to more than 25 graduate students and junior faculty members, nearly all of whom remain in science and have emerged as independent clinical investigators…he is a selfless and effective leader and his mentorship has transformed my career and those of many others,” she said.
Dr. Frei explained that he is thrilled that UT Austin celebrates faculty mentoring and feels part to be part of that culture. To him, a mentor is someone who is willing to share of themselves with an attitude of full disclosure.
“A mentor has to be willing to become vulnerable and share their mistakes, insecurities, discomforts, likes, and dislikes,” he said. “They put their protégé’s needs above their own and do not expect anything in return for their mentorship. I believe that the motivation for mentorship should be a sense of duty.”