In Honor of Joseph F. Kowalewski

By: Richard A. Puff and Nathan A. Hood

Joseph F. Kowalewki (1)
Joseph F. Kowalewski.
This photograph serves as a link to a video interview of
Dr. Kowalewski conducted by Jim Myers in 1986.

CINCINNATI—On June 23, 2015, The University of Cincinnati Board of Trustees approved renaming the Health Professions Building as Joseph F. Kowalewski Hall in honor of the former dean of the university’s pharmacy school.

Kowalewski served as dean of the College of Pharmacy from 1949 to 1970. He was the last dean of the school when it was the Cincinnati College of Pharmacy, an independent pharmacy school which first opened in 1850. Kowalewski also directed the merger of the school with the University of Cincinnati in 1954 to become the university’s 13th college. The college was renamed the James L. Winkle College of Pharmacy in 2007.

Cincinnati College of Pharmacy
Cincinnati College of Pharmacy. At one time located at 423 W. Eight Street, Cincinnati.
This photograph serves as a link to a map of the site as it exists today.

“While the college has been in existence since 1850, it was a private, stand-alone school until the 1950s, when, under Dean Joe Kowalewski’s leadership, the college joined UC. That act was arguably the most important milestone in the history of the college,” says Neil MacKinnon, PhD, dean of the Winkle College of Pharmacy. “As we begin a $27 million renovation to the home of the Winkle College of Pharmacy, renaming the building in his honor is an important way to recognize our past, while looking forward to the future.”

Kowalewki (2) Edit
Joseph F. Kowalewski

Kowalewski died at age 100 on March 30, 2000. Born in Missouri and raised in Wisconsin, Kowalewski received a teacher-principal’s certificate from the Normal School of La Crosse, which is now the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. He later earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of Chicago and a master’s degree in chemistry and doctorate in physical chemistry from the University of Cincinnati.

Cincinnati College of Pharmacy (2)
Cincinnati College of Pharmacy.
This photograph serves as a link to more photographs of the interior of the building prior to demolition in 1974.

From 1931 to 1941, Kowalewski taught chemistry on a part-time basis at the Cincinnati College of Pharmacy while working on his doctorate, which he received in 1938. He was later appointed director of research at Sperti, Inc. in Cincinnati where he worked developing cosmetics, detergents, food products and pottery glazes. He also oversaw the development of Preparation H® and is credited with coining the name for the product. Kowalewski returned to the Cincinnati College of Pharmacy in the fall of 1949 as dean.

When he became dean, the college was in significant financial trouble and was facing the loss of accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE). Affectionately known around the college as “Dean Joe,” Kowalewski improved the school’s finances while also raising a substantial endowment from alumni and local business leaders. The college moved onto the UC campus in July 1954 from its previous home at 423 W. Eighth St. and a year later secured ACPE accreditation.

Sketch University of Cincinnati College of Pharmacy (Ressler) Edit
Sketch by William C. Ressler: The University of Cincinnati College of Pharmacy.

“Dean Kowalewski’s powerful impact to the Winkle College of Pharmacy and the pharmacy community is still felt today,” says J. Richard Wuest, PharmD, who received degrees from the college in 1958, 1968 and 1971 and is an emeriti professor at the college. “He revived a faltering pharmacy college into an outstanding four-year program, received ACPE accreditation, added master’s and PhD degrees and introduced the doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) program. He endeared himself to all his students and strived to make pharmacy education affordable for them. Dr. Kowalewski saved, secured, invested, educated and transformed what we know today as the Winkle College of Pharmacy.”

Sketch University of Cincinnati College of Pharmacy (Baker) Edit
Sketch-print by M. Baker: The University of Cincinnati (Winkle) College of Pharmacy.

UC began a major renovation of the 118,590-square-foot Kowalewski Hall last year. Renovations will include new laboratories and replacement of the building’s heating, ventilation, air conditioning and plumbing systems. Electrical and lighting systems also will be upgraded and made energy efficient. All windows in the building will be replaced. The building’s original auditorium, which has been used in recent years as office space, will be restored to its original use.

The building was designed by famed Cincinnati architectural firm Samuel Hannaford & Sons. It opened Feb. 25, 1918, as the new home of the Ohio-Miami Medical College, which at the time served as the medial department of the University of Cincinnati and is now known as the UC College of Medicine. The College of Pharmacy relocated from the University’s main campus to Wherry Hall and parts of the Health Professions Building, which are adjacent, in 1976.

Health Professions Building or "Joseph F. Kowalewski Hall"
Joseph F. Kowalewski Hall, the current College of Pharmacy.
This photograph serves as a link to the finding aid for the Winkler Center’s collection on the College of Pharmacy.

For more information, please call 558-5120 or email chhp@uc.edu.