Building the Future of Pharmacy: a symbol of tradition

Roby Hill
January 21, 2022
Dean Emeritus Bill Golod signing beam for new pharmacy facility

On Jan. 20, 2022, the Medical University of South Carolina College of Pharmacy held a Topping Out Ceremony to celebrate raising the highest beam of its new pharmacy facility. 

It is a ritual that dates back hundreds of years. In the eighth century, Scandinavians used to place bundles of grain on top of newly-built structures. Eventually, it became common to place a tree at the top. There are many theories about the origin of this tradition.

  • It may have been to appease tree spirits or to seek blessings of forest gods and ensure fertility of the land and the home
  • Or to show humility before nature by elevating it above the highest man-made point
  • Or to make an analogy between the raising of a building and the growing of a tree

But at some point, the tradition’s practice became more meaningful than its practicality.  Traditions are important. They help define us. So tradition is one of the symbols represented by the beam during the College of Pharmacy's Topping Out Ceremony.

The College of Pharmacy has a tradition of educating pharmacists for well over a century. When the “Building the Future of Pharmacy” campaign started, the Building Leadership Committee (BLC) recognized that tradition would be critical to its success.

"Our tradition helped us to tell our story, to develop support, and to create excitement and confidence in our future," said Terry Blackmon, current chair of the BLC. During the ceremony, he cited founding  BLC chair Mike Heath and the hard work of BLC members in concert with college administrations as being instrumental in reaching this pivotal moment.