In 1903, the Committee on Laws and Disciplines of the Board of Trustees authorized the organization of a School of Pharmacy at the University of Georgia in Athens. At the same time, a local physician, Dr. Samuel C. Benedict, was appointed to the chair of Materia Medica in the school. Space was allocated in Science Hall but in November 1903, the building burned. Terrell Hall was constructed on the site and was occupied in June 1905. Since graduation from a college or high school was not a requirement to practice pharmacy at that time, many students enrolled, took classes for a year and then apprenticed in a pharmacy. The first graduating class was 1908, when three students received their Pharmacy Graduate (Ph.G) degree.
In January 1907, Mr. Robert C. Wilson was elected Instructor in Pharmacy and, following the death of Dr. Benedict in 1914, was named director of the Department of Pharmacy; in 1924 he became Dean of the School of Pharmacy. Dean Wilson’s continuous efforts to improve pharmacy in Georgia led to the development of one of the first four-year required pharmacy degrees in the nation, beginning in 1926. In 1939, the school moved to quarters in New College and was accredited by the American Council on Pharmaceutical Education, a rating that has been maintained.
Dr. Kenneth L. Waters was named Dean of the School of Pharmacy in 1948. Under his guidance, the school grew to the point where a new facility was deemed essential. The new building was completed in 1964. One year later, the first students of the five-year pharmacy program graduated. The new facility presented an opportunity for student body and faculty growth. With faculty experiencing the greatest percentage increase, academic programs were improved and research output was significantly increased. The service program developed rapidly and externship and clinical programs were required of undergraduate students in an effort to present the optimum learning experience. The school’s graduate degree program began with the Master’s program in 1951. In 1964, the Ph.D. degree program was authorized, and the first degrees were granted in 1967.
Dr. Howard C. Ansel was named Dean in 1977. During his tenure, the name of the school was changed to the College of Pharmacy to reflect the unit’s expanding educational, research, and service roles. On Dr. Wilson’s 100th birthday in 1978, the building was named the Robert C. Wilson Pharmacy Building in his honor. A Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) degree program was offered for the first time as a post-baccalaureate degree program and as a tracking option. The Clinical Pharmacy Program at the Medical College of Georgia was established and an assistant dean of pharmacy was named as its administrator. The graduate and research programs of the college were also strengthened through major building renovations, making the College of Pharmacy one of the premier research units on campus. The reading room was named in honor of the late Professor Ford C. Millikan in 1983. An office of Postgraduate Continuing Education was established to provide for the continuing education needs of the practitioner.
Dr. Stuart Feldman of the University of Houston was named Dean in 1991. During his tenure, the college received Georgia State lottery funds to increase technology in education and the Millikan Educational Resources Center was converted to a computer laboratory for student access. The curriculum was changed from the quarter to the semester system, and the entry-level Doctor of Pharmacy degree and the Non-traditional Doctor of Pharmacy Pathway Program were initiated. A full-time experiential coordinator was hired.
Dr. Svein Øie of the University of California San Francisco became Dean on January 1, 2000. Under his guidance, the college has increased its class size, expanded its regional presence, established a Center for Drug Discovery and a Center for Mass Destruction Defense, increased interdisciplinary research and strengthened its research focus, began a Bachelor’s of Science program in pharmaceutical sciences and started satellite pharmacy campuses in Albany, Gwinnett and Savannah. With full implementation of the entry-level PharmD program, the clinical faculty has been augmented, clinical activities increased, and the college has become actively involved in residency training. In 2003, the college celebrated its centennial. Fundraising efforts have increased the number of scholarships, endowed professorships and augmented available funds for building enhancements. In 2007, the Georgia Legislature approved funding of $44 million for a new 93, 288 square foot addition. Known as “Pharmacy South,” the new facility was built adjacent to the Robert C. Wilson Pharmacy Building and was dedicated in September 2009. Renovation of more than 60% of the Wilson Building was completed in 2010.
Dr. Kelly M. Smith of the University of Kentucky became Dean on August 1, 2018.
The College of Pharmacy has made significant strides over the years and will continuously strive for growth and excellence in the pharmacy profession, its students, faculty and staff.