Between 1906 and 1951, Arkansas students aspiring to become pharmacists matriculated at a number of places, including the Pharmacy Department in Physicians & Surgeons Medical College, University of Arkansas Medical School, Little Rock College Department of Pharmacy, Jonesboro Junior College, and College of the Ozarks. Many others learned the profession at out-of-state schools.
As 1950 ended, the nexus of pharmacy education in the state was a department within the College of the Ozarks in Clarksville. When the program at Clarksville faced challenges beyond the fiscal means of a small college, it was transferred in its entirety to the University Medical Center at Little Rock. This final relocation proved rewarding for the academic program and for the profession at large.
In the true tradition of the early universities, the Department of Pharmacy transferred in its entirety from Ozarks to the University of Arkansas. At its new location it became the College of Pharmacy, as it remains today.
The pharmacists of Arkansas had labored for a generation to secure a college for this state. They had twice supported a private college as the patron of a professional program. They had twice seen that a limited financial capacity and isolation from a medical center would prove fatal to Pharmacy education. In 1950 the leaders of the Arkansas Pharmacists Association and the Arkansas Board of Pharmacy assisted the administration of the Department of Pharmacy at the College of the Ozarks to transfer to the University of Arkansas. These players in Pharmacy education were powerfully assisted by the administration of University of Arkansas President Lewis Webster Jones, and by the vision which Governor Sid McMath had of a Medical Center.
Governor McMath proposed creation of a true medical center for the state of Arkansas. At its core would be medical, dental, pharmacy, nursing, and allied health colleges. These would provide care to the patients throughout the state from a central location. They would also, through teaching and research conducted in the course of this public service, develop into nationally ranked institutions. President Jones accorded with the Governor’s vision; and set about to add pharmacy to medicine when the opportunity offered.
The process of transfer allowed Ozarks students to move to Little Rock at the end of the Summer, 1951. They took up under a new faculty the studies already under way. The school was located in a surplus state-owned facility at 16th and Lewis Streets. Students in the first two years of study took courses at the Fayetteville campus. Dean Mittelstaedt and another faculty member commuted to Fayetteville to teach the pharmacy college component of the curriculum to pre-pharmacy students. All other courses for the final two years were taught at Little Rock.
By 1956 the construction of the new Medical Sciences Campus on West Markham allowed the relocation of the Pharmacy College. The college had received regular accreditation from the American Council on Pharmacy Education. The faculty had grown, with all members now located in Little Rock. The pre-pharmacy curriculum had been redefined so that students no longer were required to take courses at Fayetteville. New quarters on the third floor of the Shorey Building (Ed I) became the home of the college.
The College of Pharmacy continues its tradition of education and service today in Ed II. The curriculum has seen vast transformation since its early days. The same ineluctable process of change in education which compelled the transfer of Ozarks’ program to UAMS continues. The curriculum was for a time compressed to 24 months in order to graduate more pharmacists in response to manpower needs. It has returned to the three-year plan, and most recently has entered its current phase.
The College has now completed its transition from offering a Bachelor of Science degree to providing the Doctorate of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) to all graduates. This involves a fourth year of professional study, in which students undergo specialized training in clinical applications of their learning and skills. The program also utilizes a system of rotating clerkship sites to provide mentorship to its graduates. The new graduate is prepared to practice a profession that looks beyond the products on shelves to promoting desirable outcomes for individual patients through the rational use of medications.
The process of change drove pharmacy education to affiliate with the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. It continues to compel planning and adaptation. The school has reached its present level of development precisely because it benefits from taking an active role in the work of a developing medical center. The founders did not plan for the school to reach its present condition. They did establish with the flexibility to move and to change.