On January 7 2008, the University of Waterloo School of Pharmacy ran its first class. The School had 90 students, six faculty members, and only a handful of staff.
A decade later, Waterloo Pharmacy has over 60 faculty and staff, 476 pharmacy students, 120 PharmD bridging students, 38 graduate students, and 766 alumni. The intersection of King and Victoria in downtown Kitchener is now referred to as the Innovation District, home not only to the University of Waterloo’s Health Sciences Campus, but also to Google, Communitech, UW’s Velocity Garage, and more tech and education organizations.
On January 8 2018, faculty, staff, and students gathered at the School of Pharmacy to acknowledge the growth and success of the last ten years. The launch kicked off the School’s 10th anniversary and is the first of many events planned for 2018. Speakers from the University and the School shared remarks on the past, present, and future of Waterloo Pharmacy.
“When I look at what we see here now, I’m amazed at how things have developed,” said George Dixon, Vice-President Academic and Provost for UW. Dixon was the Dean of Science when planning began for the Health Sciences Campus; he and the subsequent Dean of Science Terry McMahon were integral in the development of the project. Dixon recounted the challenging process of opening the first new pharmacy school in Canada in 20 years.
“This was not the innovation district at that time. This was waste industrial land,” he said. The University was approached by Kitchener mayor Carl Zehr about the prospect of moving some component of the university to downtown Kitchener. Zehr indicated that the city could provide both land and financial resources to support the project.
“I think the only reason that we were able to do this as a university was because we had a reputation within the province for innovative action and for getting things done,” said Dixon.
Bob Lemieux, UW’s current Dean of Science, also reflected on the innovative spirit of Canada’s only co-operative education pharmacy school. Lemieux was followed by professor Shawn Wettig and Director of Admissions, Professional Relations, and Undergraduate Affairs Ken Potvin who have both worked at the School since it opened.
“At the beginning, we had just 90 pioneering pharmacy students who bravely took a chance on us,” says David Edwards, Hallman Director of the School. “We’ve come a long way since then and we’ve built a reputation for innovation in pharmacy education and research.”
“We’ve chosen a theme of ‘bold start, bright future’ to represent our anniversary. It reflects the unique approach we took to pharmacy education when we began and the great things that await us as we continue to be a leader in pharmacy education and medication-related research.”
For more 10th anniversary news and events, see the 10th anniversary website.