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Mercer University Southern School of Pharmacy: Past...Present
by Norman H. Franke


From Script (Southem School of Pharmacy Yearbook), 1981

 Pharmaceutical Education in Atlanta began in 1903 when Hansell W. Crenshaw, M.D., and Edgar A. Everhart, Ph.D., decided that the bustling city of Atlanta needed a Pharmacy School. These two men needed someone to round out their team and they found the right person in Reuben C. Hood. The group then hired two physicians and an attorney which paved the way for classes to begin on October 1, 1903 on the 5th floor of a building on Broad and Marietta Streets.

    Indeed, 1903 was a singular year in the history of pharmacy in Georgia, for it also saw the opening of the pharmacy school at the State's university at Athens and a pharmacy school at Mercer University in Macon, the latter lasting for only fifteen years, closing for a lack of students in 1918.

    In 1907, plans were developed to share space with the new and innovative Atlanta School of Medicine in a new building located at Luckie and Bartow streets. Here, for six years, a truly innovative clinical pharmacy program flourished. In this new location, the examining rooms of the medical school were but across the hall from the pharmacy in which the students learned prescription compounding. As time passed the academics of the classroom predominated over the genuine clinical experience. It was, alas, to be sixty long years later before this component was to be restored to its rightful place in pharmaceutical education.

    From 1913 until 1921, the College, now fully under the direction of Dr. Hood, occupied space in the Moore Building on Walton Street. In 1921, a building was especially designed for the College at East Pine and West Peachtree Streets. This heralded changes. The next year a new system was developed of two terms of eight months each. Then, over the next decade, the length was increased to a three-year program.

    The thirties were to bring great changes. In order to attain accreditation, all pharmacy schools were required to have a four-year B.S. degree program. To conform, "Southern" began this in 1936. More subjects meant a larger faculty. This, combined with the increased costs of educational equipment in new areas like pharmacology made it impossible to make ends meet. Prudently, Dr. Hood and Dr. Martin gave their financial interests in the College to a Board of Trustees who created a non-profit, independent, educational institution. Under the Board Chairmanship of Judson L. Hawk and Dr. Hood, the College continued to grow.

    Dr. Hood continued to serve the College, even after his retirement, due to poor health, in 1950. His support of the College ended only with his death in 1955. Dr. Minnie M. Meyer, a beloved faculty member, served as Acting Dean until Dr. M.A. Chambers came aboard as Dean in 1952. Carlton Henderson became Chairman of the Board in 1952 and began an unstinted battle to keep the doors open.

    The rising costs of the educational process continued to plague the College. Then Southern had to leave its former location in 1932 and moved to 223 Walton Street. Over the years this building had been renovated so often that it was beginning to wear out. There were pressures of space, enrollment, tuition, new faculty, new equipment new standards and more. Dean Chambers resigned in 1957 and Chairman Henderson journeyed to Kentucky to invite Dr. Oliver Littlejohn, a former professor of "Southern" to take the Deanship.

    From this time forward the School has progressed at a steady rate. Due to the spirit and philosophy of the "Southern" of Dr. Hood, the intrepid determination of Dean Littlejohn, the Pfeiffer Foundation took a keen interest in the School. This, together with the selfless loyalty and devotion of the faculty kept the School moving ever forward. During those years two percent the operating budget of the School was donated annually by members the faculty. In 1967, President Harris sent Dr. Thomas J. Holmes to "Southern" to direct its development.

    The momentum generated by the merger couldn't be stopped. Land for the new building was purchased near Dekalb Junior College and Dr. Holmes set about raising funds for a great two million two hundred thousand dollar building to keep pace with the ever-increasing demands of scientific education.

    In the late 1960's, it became apparent that a significant change was again taking place in pharmaceutical education. The five-year, program, begun in 1960, needed a clinical component. Dean Littlejohn embarked on a clinical approach to pharmaceutical education that was to bring recognition and respect to Mercer from all her sister schools of pharmacy throughout the nation. The DeKalb County land was sold and a new site acquired at 345 Boulevard, N.E., near Georgia Baptist Hospital and other clinical medical institutions in the metropolitan Atlanta colossus.

    The timely wisdom of Dean Littlejohn, fully supported by his faculty, and the tireless efforts of Dr. Hohnes, paid off in 1972 when Mercer dedicated the new Henry Robert Herold Building. This was the culmination of the merger of the spirit and philosophy of Dr. Reuben Hood, the assistance and encouragement of Dr. Herold of the Pfeiffer Foundation, the indefatigable work and leadership of Dean Littlejohn and Dr. Holmes with the great tradition that characterizes Mercer University.

    The Mercer and "Southern" traditions are one in essence, the fulfillment of the hopes of Everhart, Crenshaw and Hood, of Hawk, Henderson, Littlejohn, Holmes and Harris; of all that is "Southern" and of all that is Mercer.

    Operations in the Herold Building began with the innovative concept of a pharmacy operated by the School and devoted to the service of the public. Simply called "The Pharmacy", this unique unit trains students to serve the public in their homes and in health maintenance clinics. This success led to the unprecedented opening of a pharmacy independent of the campus, the Mechanicsville Family Health Care Center of Mercer University, designed as the title suggests, to serve the public with the best in pharmacy services and to train students in these services. Today, these two units of Mercer still remain unique in American pharmaceutical education.

    The awarding of the Doctor of Pharmacy degree as a regular terminal degree at Mercer represents the fulfillment of the dream of the founding fathers. The recognition this program has brought to Mercer has greatly increased the respect now given "Southern" by her sister schools and places Mercer in a position of leadership in the field of pharmaceutical education.

    Seventy-eight years! From a tiny class of six graduates in 1904 through the depression years of the "thirties", the great hordes of students in the post World War II, to the graduating class of 1981, with 117 combined candidates for either the B.S. or Pharm. D. degrees. Each of these years has not necessarily been a gem in itself. There were the cloudy years of the 50's, when the closing of the College seemed both assured and imminent. Then alumni and friends rallied and the School actually reftised to die. But then, those darkest moments gave birth to the brightest rays. The trials served but to re-enforce the devotion of the School's administrators and faculty. The net result was a triumph for all, especially for pharmacy.

    Today, wherever our 2, 1 00 graduates stand, they stand and shine. The Southeastern United States have benefited most from "Southern", for its students, though they have come from the ends of the earth, came mainly within this area. Then the foundation of pharmacy in the South is the "concrete" of Mercer reinforced by a faith in God and the American Dream.


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