Celebrating Black History: Chauncey Ira Cooper (1906-1983)

CICSpecial Note: During the Month of February, Black History Month, will be highlighting African Americans who have contributed significantly during the profession.

Dr. Chauncey Ira Cooper was born on May 31, 1906 in St. Louis, Missouri. Dr. Cooper made a great impact on the history of pharmacy and is acknowledged as one of the most influential activists of minority pharmacists of the 20th century. His first step into the profession of pharmacy began when he completed his pharmaceutical chemist degree (PhC) at the university of Minnesota. Subsequently thereafter, Cooper became instructor at Meharry Medical College in the Department of Pharmacy. Here he made a great difference in the lives of minority students in the pharmacy profession. He energized minority students, especially the African American students. He helped them achieve their goals and pursuits of becoming future pharmacist through words of encouragement and taking the time to mentor the students. Dr. Cooper wanted the students to know that no one and nothing should hold them back from reaching their goals. He was an inspiration to African American pharmacy students at Meharry Medical College.

His efforts towards helping minority students reach academic excellence were recognized by Howard University continued at Howard University were he was was selected as the Dean of Howard University in 1941. Not only was this an outstanding and memorable honor for Dr. Cooper, but it was also a great moment in the history of pharmacy. He became the first African American to be appointed to a prestigious administrative role at a college of pharmacy in the United States. This was an especially significant moment for all minority students and professionals in the profession of pharmacy.

Several years later, Dr. Cooper came to the realization that there was a need for a pharmacy organization that was centered upon the needs of minority community.  Therefore in 1949, he became the founder and first president of the National Pharmaceutical Association (NPhA). The organization was structured to provide minority pharmacy professionals with a positive and encouraging atmosphere to share ideas, converse, and build lasting relationships/connections within the field of pharmacy. A student chapter affiliate was created based upon NPhA and it is called Student National Pharmaceutical Association (SNPhA). SNPhA is a respected and prominent organization found in American colleges of pharmacies dedicated to promote the excellence and uniformity amongst minority pharmacy students as set forth by Dr. Cooper.

Dr. Chauncey I. Cooper sadly passed away on September 20, 1983 yet his contributions made an unforgettable mark on the history of pharmacy.


Chauncey I. Cooper Chapter Excellence Program. (n.d.). Retrieved September 22, 2015, from: http://snpha.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/CIC-Points-Updated-2014.pdf

Worthen, D. (2006). Chauncey Ira Cooper (1906–1983): Champion of Minority Pharmacists. Journal of the American Pharmacists Association J Am Pharm Assoc., 100-100.

Worthen, D. (2006). Chauncey Ira Cooper (1906–1983): Champion of Minority Pharmacists. Journal of the American Pharmacists Association J Am Pharm Assoc., 100-100. Figure 1.

Contributed by: Vista Khosraviani, P3, Class of 2017

2 thoughts on “Celebrating Black History: Chauncey Ira Cooper (1906-1983)

  1. Love this! I’m doing a presentation on the history of SNPhA in a few hours, but didn’t know too much about Dr. Cooper. Your post was very interesting informative. 😀

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