Amanda Gillispie's, '17 PharmD, family lineage connects her back to one of the College of Pharmacy's founders, Emil Boerner, and his wife, Helen.
Edward S Rose
Arthur W. Boerner
Carolyn L. Boerner
Chelsea (Hunter) Aidala
“There are four straight generations of University of Iowa pharmacists ahead of me,” said Gillispie.
Her maternal aunt—Chelsea (Hunter) Aidala—earned a PharmD from the UI College of Pharmacy in 2007. Rewind a generation, and Gillispie’s maternal grandfather—Karl Hunter—received a BSPh degree from the college in 1970.
The more distant graduates on Gillispie’s UI College of Pharmacy tree all trace back to Emil and Helen Boerner: Four generations ago, a son-in-law, Edward S. Rose—Gillispie’s great-great-grandfather—graduated from the college. Three generations ago, UI pharmacy degrees went to siblings Arthur and Carolyn Boerner—Emil Boerner’s grandchildren from his youngest son.
If you stretch your definition of “UI College of Pharmacy graduate,” Gillispie could actually be a sixth- or seventh- generation graduate of the college. The UI—then called the State University of Iowa—awarded Emil Boerner an honorary doctor of pharmacy degree in 1896. Another generation back, Emil’s father, Henry Boerner was able to become a state-licensed pharmacist in Iowa after being an apprentice under Emil—the college’s dean and sole professor—at the family pharmacy.
In 1876, Amanda’s great-great-great grandfather, Emil Boerner, opened the doors on Boerner Pharmacy in Iowa City, which stayed in the family for all of its 122 years. Arthur Boerner owned and operated the pharmacy for many of its final years. He died in 1998. Soon thereafter, his sister, Carolyn Boerner, retired and closed up shop.
Helen (Louis) Boerner
In the 1880s, attended the State University of Iowa
Edna Louise (Boerner) Rose
1905 Bachelor of Philosophy
Helen Amanda (Rose) Ford
1942 BA in Home Economics
Elizabeth (Ford Hunter) Pelton
1970 BS in Dental Hygiene, 1974 MS in Dental Hygiene
Stephanie (Hunter) Gillispie
1990 BBA, minor in Spanish
2017 Doctor of Pharmacy
Gillispie is also part of a unique chain of women: She is now the fifth consecutive woman in her direct maternal line to receive a degree in any subject area from the UI. This lineage leads back to Amanda's great-great maternal grandmother, Edna (Boerner) Rose, who graduated in 1905 with a Bachelor of Philosophy degree. One generation earlier, Amanda’s great-great-great maternal grandmother, Helen (Louis) Boerner, also attended the UI—then called the State University of Iowa—for classes in preparation for teacher's college elsewhere.
The link directly before Amanda Gillispie is her mother, Stephanie Gillispie, '90 BBA, of Iowa City. Prior to that, Stephanie's mother, Elizabeth "Beth" (Ford Hunter) Pelton, '70 BS, '74 MS, of Solon, attended the UI. (See diagram to the left.)
Amanda’s sister, Mallory Gillispie, is slated to join Amanda on this tree as a sixth-generation UI graduate; she is on track to earn a bachelor of science degree in human physiology next year.
UI officials agree that this type of legacy is rare, but it is unknown exactly how rare. Pelton suspects that it may be a first. “While there are University of Iowa alumni who are sixth generation graduates, Amanda may be the first female with such a lineage on the maternal side of a family,” Pelton stated.
Although a woman on a college campus is nothing unusual these days, it wasn’t always commonplace. Yet since the 1880s, at least one biological Boerner daughter has followed in her mother’s footsteps to the UI.
I am so proud of the women in my family that came before me,” said Stephanie Gillispie, Amanda’s mother. “They really set the tone that higher education for women was not just an option, it was the norm. I grew up not ever questioning if I would go to college, but rather, all I needed to decide was what did I want to study. I continued those expectations for my own children.”
Beginning with Emil and Helen Boerner, the parents of each generation encouraged their daughter to study the major of their own interest,” Beth Pelton said. “Having the freedom to choose where to study, what to study, and the many majors from which to choose at Iowa are factors that have played into the six generation span of University of Iowa educated women on the maternal side.”
Although Carolyn Boerner is not on the direct maternal line, she was able to speak about life at the UI College of Pharmacy three generations ago. Carolyn was one of only a small number of women to graduate with the Class of 1958. She said that she was treated well at the college. When job-hunting and during her career, though, discrimination was often blatant.