To provide a longitudinal description of the variety of career paths and preparation strategies of pharmacy deans.
A descriptive cross-sectional study design using survey research methodology was used. Chief executive officer (CEO) deans at every full and associate member institution of the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) in the United States as of May 1, 2009, were potential subjects.
The database housed 90.3% (N = 93) of all current (excluding interim/acting) CEO deans. Of the 4 cohorts across time (1991, 1996, 2002, and 2009 snapshots), the 2009 cohort had the highest percentage of deans following either the hierarchical or nontraditional career paths.
Deans named since 2002 have spent less time collectively in the professoriate than cohorts before them. One reason for this is the increase in the number of deans that followed nontraditional career paths and who spent little or no time in the professoriate prior to their first deanship. This also could be due to the increased demand for individuals to serve as dean due to retirements and the creation of new institutions.