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A Tradition of Innovation and Impact

UW School of Pharmacy has always been ahead of its time—right back to our founding in 1894 as the first school of health sciences at the University of Washington.

“The University of Washington School of Pharmacy is absolutely and resolutely dedicated to improving population health here in Seattle and around the world. Everyone talks about innovation and impact, but we live it every day.” –Sean D. Sullivan, Professor and Dean, UW School of Pharmacy

The UW College of Pharmacy 1894

The University of Washington School of Pharmacy community has been asking and answering those questions for 125 years. From our founding downtown on Denny’s Knoll (now the site of the Fairmont Olympic Hotel) in 1894 to sending scientific experiments to the International Space Station to conduct novel experiments, our faculty, students, and alumni are always finding new ways to improve population health.

A new drug safety law passed in 1891 required drug dispensing or compounding be done by a registered pharmacist. At the time, Washington state had no school of pharmacy and the closest was in San Francisco. Through a collaboration between Canadian pharmacistA.B. Stewartand UW President Edmond S. Meany, the Board of Regents established the College of Pharmacy on July 10, 1894, joining what were then the Colleges of Literature, Science, and Arts, the College of Pedagogy, and the (now defunct) School of Mines and Mining. The first class of eleven pharmacy students in the state of Washington graduated in 1896. Notably that class included three women, Helen May Anthony, Eva Maude Campbell, and Virginia Mackey Elder.

It would be decades before the establishment of other Schools of Health Sciences at the UW. Starting with a School of Pharmacy reflects the health care system at the time and which, in some rural and underserved communities, is still true to this day. In many communities, then and now, the only health provider for hundreds of miles has often been the pharmacist.

As a public university, our mission is to serve all of the people of our state. We take the responsibility to improve population health seriously. As we celebrate 125 years of impact and innovation, we do so by honoring our roots and mission to inspire education, discover solutions, and serve the people and communities here in Washington and around the world.


To study with UWSOP’s top faculty in health economics and outcomes, medicinal chemistry, and pharmaceutics, click here for more information about our Graduate Programs in Medicinal Chemistry, Pharmaceutics, Pharmaceutical Outcomes Research and Policy, and Biomedical Regulatory Affairs. Want to earn your PharmD professional degree at the UW? Start here to learn more.