Mercer Mourns the Passing of Former College of Pharmacy Dean Dr. Oliver Littlejohn


ATLANTA – Oliver Marsilius Littlejohn, Ph.D., the longest-serving dean in the history of Mercer's College of Pharmacy and former vice president of the University, died on April 8 at the age of 90.

A private family burial was held at Arlington Memorial Park. A memorial service to celebrate his life and accomplishments will be held April 25 at 2 p.m. in the chapel at Northside United Methodist Church in Atlanta.

“Dr. Littlejohn was a great man and an outstanding leader. He was admired and respected for his 'never quit' attitude and love for the profession of pharmacy. We will all miss him very much,” said H.W. “Ted” Matthews, Ph.D., dean of Mercer's College of Pharmacy and senior vice president for health sciences.

In 1957, Dr. Littlejohn was appointed dean of the Southern College of Pharmacy, which would merge with Mercer and be renamed the Southern School of Pharmacy two years later. He served as the school's dean for 27 years and is credited with saving it from closing during the 1950s and 1960s and later bringing it into national prominence.

In 1981, Dr. Littlejohn led the school in becoming the first pharmacy school in the Southeast and fifth in the nation to launch the Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) as its sole professional degree.

One of his proudest accomplishments was recruiting the first African-American student and successfully integrating the school. Following his deanship, he served as a Mercer vice president for two years. Upon his retirement, he was named dean emeritus and emeritus professor of pharmacy, an honor that has been reserved for an elite few during the University's 182-year history.

Born in Cowpens, S.C., on Sept. 29, 1924, Dr. Littlejohn came from a long line of military veterans. At 18, he enlisted in the U.S. Army, where served valiantly during World War II in the European Theater. He fought in several battles, including the Battle of the Bulge. His many medals include a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star. In 2010, the French Government recognized his heroic efforts in leading an infantry charge to liberate the town of Wolfgantzen from German occupation, as he was awarded the French National Order of the Legion of Honor, which is the highest military medal bestowed upon a non-French citizen.

He earned undergraduate degrees from Spartanburg Methodist Junior College and the University of South Carolina before earning his M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of Florida. He was also the recipient of three honorary doctorates.

Dr. Littlejohn was a national leader in pharmaceutical education. He chaired numerous committees of the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP), and was one of a small group of individuals awarded Honorary Life Membership to the Georgia Pharmaceutical Association for his years of service to the association and the pharmacy profession.

About the College of Pharmacy

Mercer University's College of Pharmacy is ranked No. 4 among pharmacy programs at private institutions in the United States, according to U.S. News & World Report. The College offers doctoral degrees in pharmacy (Pharm.D.) and pharmaceutical sciences (Ph.D.). Founded in 1903 as the independent Southern School of Pharmacy, the school merged with Mercer University in 1959 and in 1981 became the first school in the Southeast to offer the Doctor of Pharmacy degree as its sole professional degree. In 1988, the College launched its graduate program, offering the Ph.D. degree in pharmaceutical sciences. The College is one of four health sciences units within the Mercer Health Sciences Center. With an enrollment today of more than 650 students and a distinguished faculty of basic scientists and clinicians, the College of Pharmacy houses seven centers focusing on research, teaching and learning. The College's motto, “A Tradition of Excellence – A Legacy of Caring,” frames its philosophy of providing excellent academic programs in an environment where every student matters and every person counts. For more information about the College, call (678) 547-6244 or visit