History of KU School of Pharmacy

Aerial image of east facade of the KU School of Pharmacy building

Main entrance

Aerial image of the south side of the KU School of Pharmacy building

South view

The KU School of Pharmacy was established in 1885 as the university's first professional program and the third public school of pharmacy in the United States.

History by Tenure of Former Deans

Lucius E. Sayre served as the first dean of the KU School of Pharmacy. His influence helped shape the School both physically and philosophically. Sayre established the school in a two-room basement of the old chemistry building, near what is today Watson Library. In 1900, the school relocated to Bailey Hall. The first class included 23 students. Under Sayre, the School became one of the most progressive in the midwest, requiring that applicants complete four years of high school. He further changed the program from a two-year to a three-year program and stressed that the next generation of pharmacists had to be better educated. Sayre's lived by the principle of quality rather than quantity.

After Sayre passed away in 1925, L.D. Havenhill was appointed acting dean. He took over as permanent dean in 1926 and served until 1940. Havenhill improved the curriculum further and created a four-year program that required 130 credit hours for the pharmacy degree. The program offered three course options: commercial, scientific, and pre-medical.

Following Havenhill's retirement in 1940, J. Allen Reese became dean and served until 1962. At the age of 34, Reese became the youngest administrative official at KU and was the only Ph.D. on the Pharmacy faculty. He recognized the need for a graduate established the largest graduate-level pharmacy training and research program in the western United States. The pharmacy program was also expanded to a five-year program that included two years of pre-pharmacy prequisites in the liberal arts. Although enrollments dropped during the war, there were then 90 students working in laboratories designed for 12. In 1955, the university built Malott Hall and the KU School of Pharmacy relocated to the larger space.

Duane G. Wenzel was acting dean from 1963 to 1964 and dean from 1964 to 1965. Wenzel worked to streamline the curriculum, maintain the financial support, and added a dedicated curriculum and staff to the pharmacy program. He also espoused the philosophy that the school needed to emphasize and expand its research programs.

Howard E. Mossberg took over as dean in 1966 and served until 1991, when he became KU's Vice Chancellor for Research, Graduate Studies, and Public Service. Under Mossberg, the School attained unprecedented growth of the research programs in the basic sciences, new buildings on the west campus for graduate programs (Pharmaceutical Chemistry Laboratories, McCollum Laboratories, Smissman Laboratories, and Simons Research Laboratories), and a new $12 million addition to Malott Hall in 1980 to accommodate further growth of the pharmacy program.

By the late 1980s and early 1990s the KU School of Pharmacy was consistently among the nation's top pharmacy schools in NIH research funding. The School also grew to five departments, with Pharmaceutical Chemistry, Health Services & Administration, and Pharmacy Practice, joining Pharmacology & Toxicology and Medicinal Chemistry. By 1988, the pharmacy program was split and included a five-year Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy degree and a limited six-year Doctor of Pharmacy degree. The School was admitting 80 students per year into the pharmacy program in 1988.

Ronald T. Borchardt and Gary Grunewald served as Interim deans from 1992 to 1993 and 1993 to 1994, respectively. Both continued to support the school's growing international prominence in pharmaceutical research and the movement toward an all doctor of pharmacy degree.

Jack E. Fincham was named Dean in 1994 and served until his departure for a position at the University of Georgia in early 2004. Fincham presided over major changes in the curriculum which included elimination of the five year Bachelor of Science Pharmacy degree and the offering of the doctor of pharmacy degree in 1996 as the sole pharmacy degree offering by the School. By 2001, the School was admitting 105 students per year into the pharmacy program. He helped develop the non-traditional doctor of pharmacy curriculum and degree offering aimed at KU trained pharmacists currently holding a bachelor of science degree in pharmacy. Under Fincham, the school's research programs continued to grow and were consistently among the top six pharmacy schools in NIH research funding.

Kenneth L. Audus was named the seventh Dean of the KU School of Pharmacy in 2004. Under his leadership, the school gained support from state legislators and pharmacist practitioners throughout Kansas to build a $40.5 million, 110,000-square-foot building on the Lawrence campus and open a second campus in Wichita. The Lawrence facility opened in 2010, and the Wichita campus opened in 2011. The expansion allowed the school to increase its yearly new enrollment capacity from 105 to 170 students.