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Boulder Revisited: Alumnus Recalls Pharmacy School Pre-Anschutz

1955 graduate has fond memories of the CU Boulder years

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Written by Jaron Bryant on June 30, 2021

As the CU Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences approaches the eve of its 110th anniversary, an interview with Morrison Brown, ’55 provided a walk through time in recounting his days on the Boulder campus as a pharmacy student and the opportunities afforded him as an advocate for the pharmacy profession.

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How did you become involved as a pharmacy advocate?

When I came to Cortez (Colorado), there were four or five family pharmacies and no retail pharmacy chains. After working at a drug store pharmacy for about a year, I went into partnership with a pharmacist who was running a pharmacy in a new medical building. There were several doctors there. In addition, the doctors also had to take turns with the Emergency room night shift. That meant we were on call at all hours of the day or night.

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On work with the Advisory Council:

In 1961, I was appointed to the Advisory council in the School of Pharmacy by Dean (Curtis) Waldon. The council was made up of pharmacists, pharmaceutical representatives, and wholesalers. During my time on the council, I wanted to make sure that pharmacy would get the attention and credit it deserved. For instance, in the armed forces there was no commission for pharmacists, but there was for just about every other profession. I wanted to see that change and it did change although not during my tenure on the council. In 1970, Advisory Council members were asked to assist the school in maintaining accreditation standards by increasing student enrollment. Members each helped by bringing a high school student to campus every year to encourage them to pursue a career in pharmacy. I would usually take from one to three high school seniors along with me. The pharmacy students would then show them around campus. As a result, several students were recruited.

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Morrison Brown, '55

About his involvement with the Colorado Pharmacists Association:

One thing I was able to help change was the Pharmacy dues. At that time membership was $50 per year for a store. I suggested that it just be an association of pharmacists in order to remove the store owner from governing pharmacy protocols. That did happen. After that the pharmacists had control of the association. I went on to serve on the state association of pharmacists and was president from 1975-1976.

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On his role with the Colorado State Board of Pharmacy:

I thought I was done when my term as association president ended in 1976. Then Governor (Richard) Lamb appointed me to the State Board of Pharmacy to fulfill the unexpired term of another appointee. I assumed it would only be one year to complete the unfinished term, but I was reappointed by the Governor to a 5-year term.

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What drew you to the pharmacy profession?

Well, I really wanted to be a doctor but tough financial times while I was in high school dictated that I work to help the family. So, I worked after school as a soda jerk in our local drugstore. I'd get out of school at 3 p.m. and work at the drugstore until 10 p.m.

I had a wonderful teacher who knew I wanted to study medicine. She knew it was hard to get into medical school. She convinced me to take pre-medicine in the School of Pharmacy so I’d be able to work in the field of healthcare if I didn’t get into medical school. She got me a scholarship to the University of Colorado, which was actually a waiver of tuition. I caught the bus to college and remember going over a hill where I saw a bunch of red roof buildings and recognized instantly it was the University of Colorado. The School of Pharmacy was on the second floor of the chemistry building at the time.

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What was the experience like taking courses at the School of Pharmacy?

The pharmacy program was rigorous. I especially remember my sophomore year. I had twenty-one hours of difficult classes (organic chemistry, chemical microscopy, quantitative analysis, physics, and a pharmacy class). For example, quantitative analysis required daytime lectures and night time lab work. The balances were kept in a special room for humidity and temperature control. These balances had to be shared and were difficult to find a time when they were open.

I got to know a couple other pharmacy students who were a year ahead of me. They were really helpful by letting use their books. At the time I didn't realize how much I would appreciate the education, but it was really a good education. I still love the place.

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What sage advice would you pass on to new students interested in a Pharmacy career that was helpful for you?

Go into pharmacy with the attitude that you will love it, help people, and promote it. If you do this, you will serve the profession well.

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Topics: Alumni, Pharmacy