Obituary — Ara Paul


Ara G. Paul, dean emeritus of the College of Pharmacy and professor emeritus of pharmacognosy, who grew the college into one of the nation’s premier pharmacy programs during his long and remarkable career, died Nov. 15 at his home in Ann Arbor. He was 94.

Paul, who served as dean from 1975-95, spearheaded the college’s growth into a nationally recognized center of excellence for pharmaceutical education, practice and research. He was driven by his tenacious desire to provide his students with a transformational education that would prepare them to be the leaders and best in their field.

Photo of Ara Paul
Ara Paul

He was a visionary who saw that trends in the pharmacy profession required more rigorous academic preparation. He spearheaded the effort to phase out the Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy program in favor of the Doctor of Pharmacy, including a significant expansion of the research element in the curriculum.

A faculty-supervised research project already had been a part of the program — making it the first U.S. pharmacy degree program to have this requirement — but the new curriculum added several other required courses, specifically those in research methodology, scientific literature evaluation and statistics.

When this shift was completed in 1979, the college was only the third pharmacy school in the nation to adopt the Pharm.D. as the sole professional degree for careers.

Recognizing the importance of clinical experience to a pharmacy student’s education, Paul coordinated a strategic integration of the College of Pharmacy and U-M Hospital pharmacy services in the 1970s.

Another crowning achievement during Paul’s tenure was the strategic priority he placed on increasing research for all basic, clinical and social scientists. He dramatically grew the number and quality of faculty across every department, recruiting cutting-edge scientists who won recognition for their discoveries and innovations.

As a result of this growth, the college’s footprint became too small to accommodate the increase in research, faculty and students. Paul responded by launching the construction of a four-story, 20,000-square-foot addition to the south side of the Pharmacy Building completed in 1993, and then led the renovation of the northeast wing, which added another 15,000 square feet of space.

He was equally curious about people and was a wonderful relationship developer, which can be attributed to his success as a development officer. At the start of his deanship in 1975, the college’s endowment was less than $500,000; by the time he retired, it was valued at nearly $20 million.

Paul was born on March 1, 1929, in New Castle, Pennsylvania. He studied at the University of Idaho and earned his Ph.D. at the University of Connecticut. He pursued postdoctoral work in biochemistry at the Argonne National Laboratory and took a teaching position at Butler University before joining U-M in 1957. Paul specialized in pharmacognosy. He studied hallucinogenic compounds from various sources, including fungi, mushrooms and cacti, and in later years, he explored ethnopharmacology.

A beloved instructor who made sure he knew students by name, Paul received the College of Pharmacy Outstanding Teaching Award. Among his national honors, he received the American Foundation for Pharmaceutical Education Distinguished Former Fellow Profile Award and was appointed as a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

He is survived by his beloved wife, Shirley; sons, John and Richard; granddaughter, Amelia; and several cousins.

A memorial service will take place in Ann Arbor at a future date. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the College of Pharmacy Ara G. Paul and Shirley W. Paul Scholarship fund.

Submitted by the College of Pharmacy


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