Eugene Massot, an apothecary from Kentucky, became the founding father of St. Louis College of Pharmacy. Massot saw a need for pharmacy education, and his vision became the foundation for the College’s legacy.
As a 13-year-old boy growing up in Galena, Illinois, in 1836, Eugene Massot worked as an apprentice in the local pharmacy. In those days, apothecaries didn’t attend classes, and there were no formal degrees in pharmacy in the Midwest. Apprentices, like Massot, learned from apothecaries during a time when anyone could open a drugstore and sell home remedies and medicines.
At first, apprentices would start out running errands, stocking shelves and scrubbing floors until they learned how to compound medicine and tend to the counter — for most, this training lasted three years. Most apprentices also learned basic reading, writing and arithmetic at night after the store closed.
After completing his apprenticeship, Massot followed the Gold Rush to California. On his way, he passed through St. Louis. In 1852, he returned to St. Louis and opened his own drugstore, the same year the American Pharmaceutical Association (APhA) was formed. He became closely involved with APhA and helped breathe new life into the St. Louis Pharmaceutical Association three years after its founding in 1857.
Local apothecaries had begun to meet in the back rooms of drugstores to learn about botany, chemistry and other pharmaceutical topics from physicians and each other. Massot, who was self-taught, wanted them to have the education he never had.
In 1860, a committee of apothecaries and physicians was appointed by the St. Louis Pharmaceutical Association to consider opening a college of pharmacy. Massot topped the list, but after the Civil War began, everything else was put on hold. Finally, toward the end of the war, the group met again.
On November 11, 1864, at 7:30 p.m., St. Louis College of Pharmacy was founded in the hall of the St. Louis Medical College. Massot, along with four other medical colleagues, went about drafting a charter, constitution, and bylaws. He was the only apothecary on the committee.
Four years later, he was in the College’s first graduating class of 17 men. Massot served as the first chairman of the Board of Trustees in 1864 and again after he graduated. But it took the work of Massot once more to turn a short-lived dream into full-fledged reality.
In 1869, just one year after earning his degree, Massot’s plans for the College ran up against sparse student enrollment. The College was forced to suspend instruction during 1869-1870. Massot persuaded APhA to hold its annual convention in St. Louis in 1871, which garnered enough interest and support to boost enrollment.
In 1871, the College resumed classes. And so began the oldest college of pharmacy west of the Mississippi River. Massot died shortly thereafter, on Valentine’s Day, in 1871 and did not get to see the College come back into session.
The legacy of Massot’s determination lives on as the institution continues to expand student opportunity through new programs and an innovative health care education that prepares graduates to be leaders in building a healthier society.
Today, as University of Health Sciences and Pharmacy in St. Louis, we honor the pioneering spirit of the humble, single-minded man who set the course for University of Health Sciences and Pharmacy in St. Louis’ more than 155-year history.