Auburn Pharmacist Spotlight: Charlie Thomas

Charlie Thomas gives the commencement address at the 2015 Graduation Ceremony

June 26, 2015

AUBURN UNIVERSITY, Ala. – Periodically, the Harrison School of Pharmacy will highlight one of its students, faculty members, staff members or alums. For June, we will learn more about Class of 1965 member Charlie Thomas.

Thomas was recently inducted as a Golden Eagle at Auburn, an honor for those who have been alumni for over 50 years. Thomas also recently helped the Phi Lambda Sigma celebrate its 50th anniversary. The pharmacy honor society was founded by Thomas on Auburn’s campus in 1965. Thomas recently retired as the State Pharmacy Director with the Alabama Department of Public Health.

How did the idea for Phi Lambda Sigma come about?
“Well, the way that I got the idea was that I was president of the pharmacy school student body in the fall of 1964. As president of the student body, I was looking for ways to recognize outstanding student leadership and student activities in the pharmacy school. I was tapped for membership in ODK, which is a national leadership honor society among all colleges and schools. Once I was tapped for that, I realized what was needed in pharmacy was some way to recognize outstanding pharmacy leadership. My initial thoughts about Phi Lambda Sigma I thought pharmacy, leadership, and service were hallmarks of Phi Lambda Sigma, ‘PLS,’ or to put it in Greek cloture it would be called Phi Lambda Sigma. What really made it great were all the people that came after who made it grow and be better and better. Once it reached a point in time, my sense is that it took a life of its own and all the other schools decided it was a good idea and it helped what they were doing. Currently today it’s around 112-115 chapters.”

How important is it for pharmacy student to be recognized for their leadership and growing future leaders in the profession?
“I think that it is extremely important and if there is one thing that I can tell the students it is that they have developed and been recognized for leadership in the school of pharmacy. They know what to do to be active and be leaders. The most important thing for them is that they move forward in their professional life is to hold on to the knowledge and ability to be a leader and if they don’t do anything else, be a member of their local state and national pharmacy association. Once they finish their apprenticeship years, they will be able to pick that back up and lead the profession on even further. It’s so important to be a member and so important for them to carry on the tradition that they developed as pharmacy students.”

What does watching Phi Lambda Sigma grow and develop mean to you 50 years later?
“It’s sort of like watching your grandchildren grow up. It’s really special to see how its progressed, how much its grown, and what it means to only to pharmacy schools but to the pharmacy profession because its developing leadership that is going to be needed for years to come.”

What does it mean to be recognized as a Golden Eagle?
“It’s about as special as it can be. For people who don’t know about Golden Eagles, when you reach your 50th graduation year at Auburn, Auburn recognizes those graduates by bringing them back to the campus and providing programs and tours of the university and showing them how the university has grown. It generates a lot of interest and appreciation for the university.”

What does it mean to you to be an Auburn graduate?

“I think it’s just wonderful. If I have on an Auburn cap or any type of Auburn insignia, I get a War Eagle all around the world – it’s really special. I can relay one story that my father told me, he was an officer in the Second World War and he was in on the second wave that came in to liberate Paris and when they were driving down the Champs-Elysees in Paris, he looked up and saw a big banner that said ‘War Eagle.’”

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About the Harrison School of Pharmacy
Auburn University’s Harrison School of Pharmacy is ranked among the top 20 percent of all pharmacy schools in the United States, according to U.S. News & World Report. Fully accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE), the School offers doctoral degrees in pharmacy (Pharm.D.) and pharmaceutical sciences (Ph.D.) while also offering a master’s in pharmaceutical sciences. In 2014, the school adopted the slogan, “Making Medications Work Through Innovative Research, Education and Patient Care.” For more information about the School, please call 334.844.8348 or visit http://pharmacy.auburn.edu.

Last Updated: June 26, 2015