Dean William M. Searby


Dean, 1883–1885; 1891–1909

The second dean of the California College of Pharmacy, William Martin Searby, was also a major force in its founding. Born in 1835 in Lincolnshire, England, he showed an early aptitude for pharmaceutical practice, becoming an apprentice at 15 and a registered pharmaceutical chemist at 21. By 1866 he had started the Union Drug Company in San Francisco; all the company stores were destroyed by the fires that followed the 1906 earthquake.

A successful entrepreneur, he was instrumental in the founding of the California Pharmaceutical Society in 1869 and the California College of Pharmacy in 1872. He served on the first faculty of the College, and in 1897 he became a professor of pharmacy. He held this position, and that of secretary to the board of directors, for the rest of his life.

Searby served as dean from 1883 to 1885 and again from 1891 to 1909. His legacy includes his ability to teach with “rare ability and great power,” his advocacy of raising admissions and graduation requirements, and his promotion of ethical pharmacy standards. He served as editor of several journals chronicling the transition to modern pharmacy practice. He was three-time president of the California Pharmaceutical Society, reorganizing the group in 1907.

Like Emlen Painter before him, William Searby was elected president of the American Pharmaceutical Association. He died in 1909, a spokesman for “higher and better pharmacy” in opposition to “fakirs and fake remedies of all kinds.”

Source: “A History of UCSF,” a collaboration of the UCSF Library and Center for Knowledge Management and the UCSF Department of Anthropology, History, and Social Medicine.