Professor of Pharmacy Jeanne Van Tyle discovered her love of teaching in what sounds like a moment scripted for television. Four weeks into her teaching assistantship for her master’s program, the professor she was assigned to had a heart attack. He told Van Tyle where the class notebook was, and she was left to teach the class while he recovered.
“That was the first thought I’d given to teaching,” Van Tyle explained.
Originally thinking she would go into research and work for a company like Eli Lilly, her direction suddenly changed.
That was about 45 years ago, and now Van Tyle is exiting Butler after 40 years of teaching.
“I came to pharmacy school thinking I wanted to help people,” she said. “So this brings me back to my base roots of service. When we ask students on the first day of classes, ‘Why do you want to be a pharmacist?’ the number one answer is, ‘to help people.’ Many have seen grandparents struggle or have a personal history which perked their interest. In addition, I come from a social justice background as well. I truly believe that ‘to those to whom much is given, much is expected.’”
Van Tyle grew up on the southwest side of Indianapolis and intended to go to school at Indiana University. But her presentation at a high school science fair—doing a tissue culture to measure the effects of drugs on chick embryos—earned her a half-tuition scholarship to Butler.
She lived at home while at Butler and finished her Bachelor of Pharmacy degree in 1974. Two years later, after earning her Doctor of Pharmacy from Mercer University in Atlanta, Georgia, Butler’s College of Pharmacy recruited her to join the faculty.
Over the next several years, she impacted the Butler culture in at least two significant ways.
Initially, when she was hired, she was in a 50-50 position—that is, half her salary was paid by Butler and half by St. Vincent Hospital. She spent time in the mornings with doctors and students at St. Vincent, then the afternoon at Butler—many elective courses were offered in the evening division at the time. The 50-50 appointment is common now among pharmacy faculty so that pharmacy students can have access to faculty at sites. She was at both sites every day while working at St. Vincent, she said, but she was the first in this type of appointment.
Her second significant change was when she married another Pharmacy Professor, Kent Van Tyle, in 1982. It was rare at the time for faculty members to marry and have both stay at Butler, but the dean agreed with the decision.
At Butler, faculty appointments are based around teaching, research, and service. Van Tyle’s teaching areas are in pharmacokinetics and women’s health issues. She has taught in the Pharmacy, Physician Assistant and Health Sciences program. As for research, she’s also published articles in various scholarly journals like Pharmacotherapy and Annals of Surgery, and in pharmacy journals such as Pharmacy Times, some with her fellow colleagues. She has written several book chapters for textbooks in pharmacokinetics.
Service, however, is what Van Tyle has truly focused on for the past 40 years through teaching, mentoring students, training pharmacists, and volunteering in the community. For the past 20 years, she has served as a volunteer pharmacist for the Gennersaret Free Clinics, which provides healthcare for the homeless.
Rebecca Seifert, Executive Director of Gennersaret Free Clinic, has known Van Tyle as both a volunteer and as a member of the organization’s board.
“She goes above and beyond in terms of just caring,” Seifert said. “She has one of the most caring and compassionate hearts.”
At Butler, Van Tyle’s volunteer service included serving as Co-Chair of the Gender Equity Commission, a study of campus atmosphere for faculty, staff, and students, and as Chair of the Faculty Senate for one term.
“Both of these roles emphasize working with other across campus and helps to unite us in common causes,” Van Tyle said. “It is too easy to work by yourself and just your college. Cross campus activities help build new relationships and friendships.”
Van Tyle said Butler has been an ideal workplace because of the interaction with many bright students and colleagues, and the ability to integrate the service aspect of her life into her career so heavily.
At the end of the day though, she’s ready for the next stage, and to spend more time with her husband and two daughters, Rachel and Emily ’13, both of whom have inherited her service nature.
“I’ve spent so much time and energy working, I don’t know what all is out there,” Van Tyle said. “Everyone I know who is retired says they don’t look back but move on to new things.”
Like everything else she’s fully immersed herself in, that’s what she’s planning to do.