Dr. Richard Lucarotti aces 45-year Wayne State career with professor emeritus honor

Rich Lucarotti
Rich Lucarotti in the WSU Applebaum building in 2019.

It was only four years ago that the Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences celebrated Dr. Richard Lucarotti’s first attempt at retirement from Wayne State University.

Lucarotti started his 50-year career as a pharmacist in 1971, graduating from the University of Pittsburgh Scool of Pharmacy. He began his academic pharmacy career as an adjunct assistant professor at WSU Applebaum in 1976, just after earning his doctor of pharmacy degree from the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science. That same year, he launched an accomplished tenure in clinical practice at William Beaumont Hospital that would last alongside his teaching until 2004, when he was offered a full-time appointment at Wayne State.

The cake and collage given to Rich Lucarotti at his first retirement party in 2017.
Second time's a charm? The cake and collage presented to Rich Lucarotti at his first retirement party in 2017.

In 2017, having risen to clinical professor of pharmacy practice and director of experiential education, and with four decades of clinical and educational service filling out his CV, Lucarotti decided it was time to retire. A party was thrown, complete with a cake iced “Happy Retirement,” and the college presented him with a photo collage as a parting gift.

But that collage would hang in Lucarotti’s WSU Applebaum office for another four years, as he was quickly recruited back into service as the college’s associate dean for pharmacy. On June 30, 2021, he will retire a second and ­­– he says – final time. (Although sources reveal he isn’t quite ready for a life of leisure. He is already slated to co-teach PPR 6155, a course in professional and practice development, with Associate Clinical Professor of Pharmacy Practice Francine Salinitri this fall.)

Tribute video
In June 2021, faculty, staff, students and colleagues sent video well-wishes to Dr. Lucarotti. Watch this abridged version or see the link at the bottom of this story for the full video.

“It has all been a very fulfilling and rewarding experience for me,” Lucarotti said. “I will miss very much working with the many faculty and staff I had the opportunity and pleasure to collaborate with in building and providing a strong pharmacy program and college. The collegial relationships along with the educational relationships with many students are what make it the toughest to depart.”

In his role as associate dean, Lucarotti was instrumental in significantly revising the PharmD curriculum in 2016 to meet the evolving needs of the pharmacy profession.

“Dr. Lucarotti was a champion for the further development of interprofessional education at the college, elevating the learning experience for not only our pharmacy students but all students pursuing a graduate professional degree in a clinical profession,” said WSU Applebaum Interim Dean Cathy Lysack.

When COVID-19 forced the university to close its physical doors, Lucarotti led the PharmD program’s transition to virtual learning. Under his leadership, faculty and students were successfully able to complete their required courses, allowing student pharmacists to remain on schedule toward graduation.

“This is not a trivial process given the number of students and courses that are required to complete each semester as part of the rigorous professional program,” said Associate Professor of Physical Therapy Moh Malek, chair of the college’s Promotion and Tenure Committee.

In fact, every single PharmD student with pre-COVID plans to be part of the graduating classes of 2020 and 2021 reached the milestone, despite the incredible academic and personal challenges brought about by the pandemic.

Lucarotti’s accomplishments reach well beyond Wayne State, and for many years he has been recognized in his field at regional and national levels. A brother of Kappa Psi and Rho Chi, he has been celebrated for Distinguished Leadership in Health-System Pharmacy by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists and earned the Michigan Society of Health-System Pharmacists Pharmacist of the Year Award, the Joseph A. Oddis Leadership Award, and the Wayne County Pharmacists Association John H. Webster Award in honor of exemplary contributions to the profession. He is also a recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Pittsburgh, where he earned his bachelor of science in pharmacy in 1971.

He is proud of his lead role in development of the Eugene Applebaum Leadership and Scholars Program and in the design and development of a Wayne State Pharmacy Clinic facility. He aspires to continue his support in the bright future for each of these endeavors. A mentor and role model for students and faculty alike, Lucarotti has served the college, the university and the pharmacy profession with distinction.

“His dedication and professionalism throughout those years has been tremendous,” Lysack said. “He is exceptionally qualified to hold the title of professor emeritus.”

Game, set, match.

Watch the full 30-minute tribute video featuring well-wishes from faculty, staff, students and colleagues.

As of July 1, Clinical Professor of Pharmacy Practice Susan Davis will fill Lucarotti’s shoes (and likely do a number on his tidy office) under a 12-month appointment as interim associate dean for pharmacy.

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