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 History of the McWhorter School of Pharmacy

The Samford University School of Pharmacy was established on January 31, 1927, as the Howard College Department of Pharmacy in Birmingham, Alabama. The department operated successfully with small classes and only two faculty members (including Dr. James Brakefield who directed the program) until 1929 when adverse economic conditions (stock market crash) and new accreditation requirements forced Howard College to stop offering pharmacy courses.

With the help of many concerned pharmacists from the Birmingham area, and at the urging of both the Alabama State Board of Pharmacy and the Alabama Pharmaceutical Association, the Howard College Department of Pharmacy was reestablished in 1932. Dr. A. Richard Bliss, Jr., a widely known pharmacologist who was serving as dean of the University of Tennessee College of Pharmacy, was called to be dean of the new four-year program. Under Dr. Bliss' leadership, the pharmacy program prospered. The program was the largest in the south by 1936, with 96 students and five faculty members. The department of pharmacy moved into a new three-story building that included up to date laboratory equipment that same year. In recognition of this growth, the department of pharmacy was upgraded to the Howard Division of Pharmacy in 1938.

After the death of Dr. Bliss in 1941, Dr. Leon Richards from the University of Washington was chosen as dean. Dr. Richards directed the pharmacy program during the war years and saw the enrollment drop to less than 20 students. Following the war, enrollment grew rapidly to 200 students by 1947. It was this same year that Dr. Richards resigned and returned to the West.

Dr. Clement Huyck from Columbia University was selected as the third dean of the Howard pharmacy program in 1947. Under Dr. Huyck's leadership, a three-story annex to the pharmacy building was built and existing facilities were renovated. The faculty was also expanded, with approximately 14 faculty members serving during his tenure.

Following the resignation of Dr. Huyck in 1952, Dr. Woodrow R. Byrum from Ohio State University was selected as dean. Much progress was made under Dr. Byrum's direction including the relocation of the pharmacy program to the new Howard campus, initiation of the five-year curriculum, upgrading of the division to school of pharmacy status, the establishment of a model pharmacy in the pharmacy building, and the establishment of local chapters of many national student social and professional organizations. The first course in clinical pharmacy was also offered under Dr. Byrum's tenure. Dr. Byrum retired due to illness in 1971.

Following Dr. Byrum's retirement, Dr. John Wintter was appointed as the fifth dean of Samford School of Pharmacy. Under Dr. Wintter's leadership, the pharmacy program grew in size and complexity. The clinical pharmacy program was expanded to include clerkships and externships in many area community and hospital pharmacies. The number of faculty and students increased to an all time high. Space allocated to the school also increased to include all of Ingalls Hall. Dr. Wintter returned to classroom teaching in 1984 and retired from the University in 1989.

Dr. Stanley V. Susina served as acting dean until 1985 when Dr. Timothy N. Burelle was appointed. Under Dean Burelle's leadership the school reached new prominence. The Samford University Pharmacokinetics Center was established and several nationally recognized faculty members were added to the school's roster. The doctor of pharmacy program and the joint B.S. in pharmacy/MBA degree were established. A major renovation of Ingalls Hall, home of the school of pharmacy for 30 years, was undertaken. In June 1990, Dr. Burelle left Samford University to take an executive position in the chain drug industry.

The next era of the school began in the University’s sesquicentennial celebration year, 1991. Dr. Joseph O. Dean, Jr., a 1962 Samford pharmacy graduate, became the school's seventh dean in April, 1991. Dr. Dean emphasized broadened relationships with Birmingham's academic medical center and extensive health community. International programs with affiliations in Japan, Korea, China and Great Britain were established. There were two major Facility renovations and expansions resulting in the McWhorter School of Pharmacy Complex. Dean also worked to equip the school with contemporary technology to support the curriculum.

The school of pharmacy attained a new distinction in the 1995-96 academic year when it was announced that alumnus R. Clayton McWhorter (class of ‘55) had provided a $10,000,000 gift to the University, which was designated for the pharmacy program. The University trustees, in December 1995, voted to name the school the McWhorter School of Pharmacy in honor and recognition of Mr. McWhorter and his family.

In August of 1994 the school admitted its first class of entry-level doctor of pharmacy candidates. After this group completed the four year program in 1998, the school’s accreditation changed from a bachelor of science in pharmacy to that of a doctor of pharmacy. In June of 2011, the McWhorter School of Pharmacy received renewed accreditation of the doctoral program from the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education.

Samford University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award the doctor of pharmacy degree. Contact the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097 or call 404-679-4500 for questions about the accreditation of Samford University.