Happy 130th Birthday Auburn Pharmacy

The Auburn Pharmacy program's home over the years. From left: Hargis Hall Annex, Ross Chemical Laboratory, Miller Hall, and the Walker Building.

August 27, 2015

Throughout the 2015-16 school year, the Harrison School of Pharmacy will be celebrating the 130th birthday of Auburn's Pharmacy Program. We would love to hear from our alumni and friends. If you have any pictures or stories from your time in Auburn's pharmacy school, please send them to hsopcomm@auburn.edu.

AUBURN UNIVERSITY, Ala. – On this date, 130 years ago, seven men convened in the Reading Room of the Exchange Hotel at the corner of Commerce and Montgomery Streets in downtown Montgomery, Alabama. The group of men that met on that day made up the Board of Trustees of the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Alabama, now Auburn University, and an item on the day’s agenda was one that has had a huge impact on healthcare in the state of Alabama.

It was on that day that a course in pharmacy was adopted, then as part of the School of Chemistry, at the university. It was a motion by Judge Jonathan Haralson of Selma that read “That the Faculty are hereby authorized and directed to arrange as early as practicable a special course of instruction in Pharmacy adopted to qualify young men by systematic work in Chemistry and other sciences to become practical pharmacists and chemical manufacturers.”

RELATED: Minutes from the Aug. 27, 1885 Board of Trustees Meeting.


An excerpt from the 1885 Agricultural and Mechanical College of Alabama Catalog, listing a course in Pharmacy for the first time.

A listing for Emerson Miller, Auburn's first pharmacy professor, in the 1897 Glomerata

It was adopted,  and that fall, an entry was included in the Auburn University Catalog, reading, in part, “Students who expect to become practical pharmacists can enter upon a special course of Chemistry and Natural History and with great advantage, occupy all of their time in the laboratories of these departments, under the immediate direction of the Professors.”

Thus, a path was chartered that would lead eventually to the Harrison School of Pharmacy. Now entering its 130th year at Auburn, HSOP has educated more than 6,000 pharmacists since that day in 1885.

The course in Pharmacy that was born that day grew for 10 years and in 1895, the Alabama Polytechnic Institute hired its first Professor of Pharmacy. An Ohio native that earned his pharmacy degree at the University of Michigan, Emerson R. Miller came to The Plains as an assistant professor and was elected chair of Pharmacy in 1896.

Miller established the early pharmacy curriculum at Auburn and introduced a four-year course of study leading to a B.S. degree. In 1896, Solon Lycurgus Coleman of Uniontown became the first graduate of the new pharmacy program.

Another student that Miller encountered was one whose name still fills the air. A halfback on Auburn’s first football team who had earned a degree in agriculture, Sheldon Toomer returned to campus as a post-graduate to pursue a degree in pharmacy. He completed his degree in 1897 and purchased a drug store at the intersection of what is now College and Magnolia.

RELATED: Sheldon Toomer pictured (standing, third from left) and listed with post-graduates in the 1897 Glomerata.

Miller left Auburn twice, but returned for good in 1918, and remained on The Plains until his death in 1929. In 1952, Miller Hall, the first building designed and built exclusively for pharmacy on Auburn’s campus, was opened and named in his honor.

By that time, the Department of Pharmacy had grown out of its position within the School of Chemistry and at the API Board of Trustees meeting on June 2, 1941, it was resolved “That, effective July 1, 1941, upon the recommendation of the President, the Department of Pharmacy shall be organized and set up as a separate school to be known as the School of Pharmacy with Doctor L.S. Blake as Head Professor of Pharmacy.”

RELATED: Minutes from the June 2, 1941 Board of Trustees Meeting.

The motion was made by C.S. Culver and seconded by A.H. Collins. The vote was unanimous and almost 75 years later, Auburn’s School of Pharmacy is considered among the best in the United States. Coincidentally, one of those casting a vote in the unanimous decision was Trustee Sheldon Toomer of Auburn, Alabama.

From a program occupying a small space in the chemistry department to the bustling Harrison School of Pharmacy, with nearly 600 Pharm.D. students and more than 50 graduate students across two campuses, that we know today, Auburn’s pharmacy program has been an innovative and trendsetting force in the industry.

With a broad alumni base covering the spectrum of the pharmaceutical industry, HSOP graduates over the last 130 years have made a significant impact on the lives of those in the state of Alabama, the Southeast, and the United States. Now, with outreach programs in countries such as Thailand, Panama, Ecuador, and others, that reach is Worldwide.

It has been an exciting 130 years to be involved in Pharmacy at Auburn. The next 130 should be even more exciting. Happy Birthday!

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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: August 27, 2015