October 4, 2018
By Whitney Tarpy
OXFORD, Miss. – University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy administrators Alicia Bouldin and John Bentley are proof that opposites can complement each other.
The two met in August of 1993 when they began graduate school in the School of Pharmacy’s pharmacy administration department. Bouldin, associate dean of outcomes assessment and learning advancement and professor of pharmacy administration, was raised in the South. She’s a creative thinker who stays up-to-date on technological advances, while Bentley, chair of the Department of Pharmacy Administration, grew up in the Midwest, is passionate about statistics and took some time to adjust to smartphone culture.
However, for all the pair’s differences, 25 years of working alongside each other created a bond of trust and appreciation that spurred them to celebrate their 25-year “friendiversary.”
“We always made a great team,” Bouldin said. “We complemented each other really well. Sometimes when we had joint projects within the department, they wouldn’t let us be on the same team because we needed to spread out and collaborate with other folks.”
A friendship was easy to strike up, as they were always together in class or working at the department’s then one computer in Faser Hall. Bentley even got a head start on his teaching career by helping Bouldin find her way through statistics, which allowed Bouldin to see Bentley’s patience with others.
“The instructor would put carets on top of things, and Alicia kept calling them hats,” Bentley said. “She would say ‘What are those hats? Why does she keep putting those hats on top of things? Why do we need those hats?’
“Alicia went on about these hats, which in statistics, just show that it’s an estimate from a sample instead of a population parameter. She rolled her eyes at me a couple of times.”
Bentley experienced Bouldin’s kindness upon his arrival in Oxford. With Bentley’s wife still living in Iowa, Bouldin became an adoptive older sibling, making sure he ate well, washed his clothes and got haircuts.
“We still have to do things together and are thrown together, much like in the way we started,” Bentley said. “Part of why our friendship has lasted this long is because of the complete trust in the quality of work that the other does. Yes, it’s a work relationship, and we have been through a lot together, but I have such an admiration and respect for her.”
The duo say that it doesn’t feel like 25 years since they met. Bouldin and Bentley have gone through a lot together since their grad school days, such as faculty promotions, a failed attempt to watch American Film Institute’s Top 100 Movies (their families made it through two) and Bouldin translating Southernisms for Bentley.
While some things are still the same, they acknowledge that changes have only come for the better.
“I was very lucky to have that encouragement from him in school,” Bouldin said. “I probably did more than I would have if it had been someone else because he’s super smart and capable. I couldn’t slack.
“We grew up together, in a way, and entered into a different phase of life. It was nice to do that together.”