Where we were
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Not long after the university's medical department celebrated its 40th anniversary in 1885, many faculty members joined with area pharmacists to register concern over the unregulated instruction and training of the day.

The turn-of-the-century pharmacist acted as manufacturer, compounder and dispenser. Secret formulas-often laced with habit-forming amounts of opium, cocaine, heroin or alcohol-abounded. Not until 1906 were these remedies-bearing names like "Dr. Edward's Tonic for Run-Down, Half-Sick, Weak and Nervous People"-required by law to divulge the sources of their soothing power.

In 1884, the newly legislated Erie County Board of Pharmacy announced new and more stringent conditions for obtaining a pharmaceutical license. One would have to pass an exam or obtain a diploma, either of which would require an organized educational structure and formal training facilities.

Frank Vandenbergh, professor of chemistry in the UB medical department, declared, "Surely in requiring an examination, these laws call loudly for systematic instruction; but in addition, there is an expressed demand (for it) on the part of local druggists."

Given new laws and increasing demand for systematic pharmacy training, Vandenbergh was invited to research the issue and report his findings to the UB Council. With a businessman's eye for a potential market, he located what he called a "great circle of territory" unoccupied by a college of pharmacy: Western New York, Western Pennsylvania, and portions of Ohio and southern Ontario.

In 1886, Vandenbergh made a persuasive presentation before the council, urging "the establishment of a department of pharmacy in the University of Buffalo." During the following month, "with little debate or discussion," the council authorized the creation of the Buffalo College of Pharmacy, the first new academic unit since the university's founding 40 years earlier.

The pharmacy college was funded by the combination of subscriptions-which yielded $750-and student fees. Incoming students were charged $50 for a 20-week academic year, or $100 for what was termed a "perpetual ticket." This ticket allowed a student to take as many courses as he or she liked. Perhaps not surprisingly, this promise of perpetuity did not last beyond the department's early years.

Although the college would be run by faculty, it would work with a board of "seven reputable pharmacists," preserving those dialogues between academics and professionals so instrumental in the school's founding.