Foundational Trailblazer: Dr. Chauncey Ira Cooper

Dr. Chauncey Ira Cooper

Dr. Chauncey Ira Cooper (1906-1983), an African American, graduated from the University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy with a pharmaceutical chemist degree in 1927. He subsequently joined the faculty of the Meharry Medical College Department of Pharmacy until 1933 when he returned to the UMN College of Pharmacy to earn his BS in Pharmacy (1934) and then his MS degree (1935). After graduation, he joined the faculty at Howard University in Washington, DC, where he rose through the academic ranks. In 1938 he was appointed as acting dean at Howard University, becoming the first African American as chief administrator of a U.S. college of pharmacy. In 1941, he was named the dean at Howard University, a position he held until his retirement in 1972. (Worthen, Speedie)

Through the years Chauncey Cooper made many contributions to the pharmaceutical sciences. Cooper's voice and leadership were instrumental in bringing more African Americans into pharmacy (Worthen, Speedie). He was also instrumental in forming the National Pharmaceutical Association (NPhA), an association dedicated to representing the views and ideas of minority pharmacists and serving the underserved.

Cooper served as the founding president of the National Pharmacy Association (NPhA) from 1947-49, and executive secretary from 1954- 1972. He was the founding editor of the Journal of the National Pharmaceutical Association and an active member of many other professional organizations including the American Pharmaceutical Association (APHA) and the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (Worthen, Speedie). Despite being one of few African American pharmacists during his time, he was truly an inspirational trailblazer who shaped not only the profession of pharmacy but also pharmacy organizations. Thank you, Dr. Chauncey Cooper, for paving the way. Because of you WE CAN!


Worthen D. Chauncey Ira Cooper (10906-1983): champion of minority pharmacists. J Am Pharm Assoc 2006; 46(1):100-3.

Speedie M, Ruhrold LN. A History of the University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy 1892-2017. University of Minnesota 2021. IBSN 978-1-946135-67-4.