Retirement Spotlight: Keith Herist

Dr. Keith Herist Values Relationships At College of Pharmacy

From the Oxford Dictionary….
un·as·sum·ing
/ˌənəˈso͞omiNG/
adjective: unassuming

  1. not pretentious or arrogant; modest.
    “He was an unassuming and kindly man.”

When the Oxford dictionary wrote the definition of the word “unassuming,” surely, they had Dr. Keith Herist in mind. This quiet, unassuming CAP Associate Professor has left his indelible impression on the College of Pharmacy. He will be remembered for his devotion to his students, loyalty to his colleagues and friends, and generosity to all.

A native of the beach area of south Florida, Keith, who is a 1996 and 1997 CoP alumnus, will retire January 1 after 18.5 years of service at the College.  However, if you thought pharmacy was his first and only career, you would be mistaken!  Keith actually is a Certified Public Accountant, with an accounting degree from Florida State University! His accounting skills have contributed to his scholarship and service work – as examples, he and Dr. Matt Perri, CAP Clinical Professor, wrote a book titled “Financial Analysis in Pharmacy Practice,” and Keith has volunteered his accounting skills with such organizations as The Atlanta Opera.

Reflected Dr. Perri, “I can tell you a lot about my friend, Keith. He and I have a longstanding relationship that started when he was a student, and then I later hired him to teach at the College. We are more like brothers than friends. He has a deep sense of compassion and respect for others. Spending time with friends and enjoying their company, along with some good food is Keith’s idea of a good day. Simply put, Keith gets it when it comes to life. He is a gentle giant.”

Added Dr. Trisha Branan, CAP Clinical Associate Professor and Interim Assistant Department Head for Professional Education, “Keith is one of the most genuine people you will ever meet. He carries high expectations for his students and colleagues, driven by his passion for the pharmacy profession. His door is always open to anyone to stop by when you just want to chat, need someone to listen, or to hear one of his many pearls of wisdom. The number of student lives he has impacted while at the College are hard to measure as he has been a fixture in so many classrooms through the years.”

Dr. Henry Young, the CAP Interim Department Head and Kroger Professor, summed up Dr. Herist’s contributions to the College and the profession. “Keith has unselfishly and undeniably made a difference in the lives of students and colleagues alike. His commitment to excellence in the profession is something I will always admire, and his spirit and kind soul will be missed.”

Post retirement, you will find Keith on a beach in south Florida; enjoying his secret passion for vintage cars (he is a past and present owner of Jaguars); spending time with his four-legged feline friends, Neiman and Marcus; and planning his dream vacation in a stateroom on a yacht in the Caribbean!

Enjoy reading Keith’s reflections. Heartfelt thanks to Dr. Matt Perri, who greatly contributed to this story.

When did you start at the College? Why were you interested in joining the College?

I came to the CoP rather serendipitously in 2002.  I had just interviewed for a position as the Director of the UGA Health Center (which was ill-fated) and stopped by the CoP to talk with former Associate Dean George Francisco.  I was currently working in Atlanta in community practice with a national chain and, at 46 years of age, desperately desired a position in which I could sit down.  He informed me that the Department of Clinical and Administrative Pharmacy was currently looking to hire.  I immediately went upstairs to see Dr. Matt Perri, and the rest is history.

What positions did you serve within the CoP?

Because of my prior background as a CPA, I became the official “Bean Counter” for the department as well as a “Pill Counter” due to my retail pharmacy experience.

Who was a mentor or special person for you at the CoP?

Dr. Henry H. Cobb, Professor Emeritus.  We worked extensively in the Skills Labs as well as several didactic courses. He always encouraged students and me with a “thumbs up” and a very sincere and energetic “doing a fine job!”

What was your most indelible memory of the CoP?

The sense of “family” that existed in those early years with close faculty members and our interactions with the students – a simpler and more innocent time.

What was your favorite part of the job?

Participating in ground-breaking pharmacy initiatives developed with Dr. Perri as Associate Department Head.  Creating the Wellness Clinic with the CoP, which supported the campus community with various student-provided health screenings. Eventually, this effort grew into several CAP faculty practicing together at Athens Primary Care within a local physician’s practice.  Each of us had our own expertise in caring for patients, and we cross-trained each other as well as P4s.  It was the early beginning of what eventually became IPPEs and APPEs.

What is your lasting legacy to the CoP? What is your greatest accomplishment?  What do you want to be remembered for?

Serving as the inaugural Treasurer of the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy for two terms.  I was honored to represent CoP and the profession in service to a national pharmacy organization by combining my two fields of study in such a complementary way.

What will you miss the most?

Close relationships, still intact after many years, which I will always treasure.

What do you plan to do in retirement?

As the saying goes, “Old accountants never die, they just lose their balance.”

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