UT College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences News

Kathy Zember to retire from The University of Toledo

Looking back on November 7, 1994, Kathy Zember’s first day of employment at The University of Toledo, she recalls being somewhat hesitant about going back to work full time after having been home with her two boys for most of their young lives.

“It was a big decision for both my husband and me, but it was a good decision. I had very minimal computer skills, and so on my first day at UT I was overwhelmed and unsure of the responsibilities ahead,” Zember said.

Zember jokes that she brought very few personal possessions to work during the first couple of weeks, just in case the job didn’t work out.

Twenty years later, Zember is the college’s program accreditation specialist for Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experiences (APPEs). Over the years, she has developed friendships and memories that have enriched her life in many ways. In addition to gaining computer skills, Zember has enjoyed the camaraderie, and interacting with co-workers, friends, and students. She values the laughter she has shared with them over the years.

Asked about a situation that made her laugh, she recounts a particularly frantic moment involving her colleagues and a microwave oven.

“Early in my years at UT, I worked in proximity to an individual who really disliked the smell of popcorn and made it quite clear. One day, I accidentally burned a bag of popcorn to a big lump of char. Smoke was literally billowing from the microwave, and this individual was due to arrive at work at any moment. I had a teaching assistant spray cologne in the microwave room as I fled down the hall to the bathroom, where I disposed of the huge chunk of char.

As I raced past the Office of Student Affairs to get rid of the evidence of my popcorn debacle, panic ensued because the staff thought I was running from an electrical fire. I shared my story with a few of my close coworkers, and we certainly had a lot of laughs,” Zember recalled. “I always said that maybe when I retire, I’d share this story.”

Zember plans to stay connected to the college by continuing the types of activities through which she has developed friendships with colleagues, including dinners, kayaking, student events, painting classes, and shopping.

“I plan to continue that practice as much as possible to stay connected,” she said. “It’s easy to make a friend, but it takes an effort to maintain friendships. I hope that I will never lose sight of that.”

Zember’s plans for retirement also include spending time with her husband, gardening, reading, and volunteering at Toledo Children’s Hospital.

“If I get bored,” she said, “I’ll look for a fun job – maybe in a clothing boutique!”

The changes Zember has witnessed in the college and in the profession of pharmacy have included the inception of the Doctor of Pharmacy degree, which was once optional, and the growth in the number of students pursuing this degree. However, the stability in the college is symbolic to her.

“Since I have been at UT, our college has had two deans of the college, two associate deans for Student Affairs, and four chairs or interim chairs of Pharmacy Practice,” she recalled. “I think that speaks to job satisfaction.”

After 20 years of service in the Department of Pharmacy Practice, Zember is retiring.

“There is nowhere else in the University that I would have rather been,” she said. “This has been a fun experience and one I will never forget.”

The college will celebrate the retirement of Kathy Zember on November 18 from 3-5pm in Salon C of the Radisson at UTMC.

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is the Scientific Editor and College Communicator for The University of Toledo College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. She is a triple alumna of The University of Toledo with master's degrees in English and Education and a graduate certificate in Patient Advocacy.
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