The Man Behind the Fuzzy Bunny Slippers
Published on 29 October 2019
If you have ever passed by Jones Hall’s historic north entrance, you may have noticed a bronze statue of a man wearing fuzzy bunny slippers. Some pedestrians stop for selfies, while others chuckle at the sight, but for many, the mysterious statue serves as a friendly reminder of one of St. Louis College of Pharmacy’s favorite professors.
For 40 years, Leonard Naeger, B.S. ’63, M.S. ’65, Ph.D., served the College as professor of pharmacology. He devoted his entire career to the College and the profession of pharmacy, but was best known around campus for his joyful spirit.
Some of the most memorable moments shared by College alumni include a day when Naeger delivered a lecture while lying down, when he dressed up as Santa Claus while proctoring his summer pharmacology finals, and most notably, when he walked around campus wearing fuzzy bunny slippers.
He also was known for his friendliness outside the classroom. Each year, students put together a faculty auction to raise funds for charity. In the event’s early days, one of the top auction items included a night out with friends, hot dogs and a poker game at Naeger’s house. As part of the prize, Naeger would demonstrate his sense of humor by making skinny hamburgers so they could fit inside hot dog buns.
Students and colleagues appreciated his storytelling, collection of classic cars and knack for poker, but he was most admired for his desire to give back.
Starlin Haydon-Greatting, B.S. ’81, shared how Naeger’s thoughtful actions helped her during a difficult period in her life.
“My father died during my fourth year at the College, and back then, you had to have a co-signer for a checking account,” Haydon-Greatting said. “All of my funds were frozen, and I couldn’t write a check for tuition for the second semester. Drs. Naeger and Haberle and Hillory Still wrote checks and paid my tuition until my funds were freed up so I could stay in pharmacy school.”
Although well known for his flair and fun antics, his caring heart made him popular with students and colleagues. He often collected roses from his personal garden and left them in bud vases for faculty and staff to find in their offices.
“Fun seemed to follow Leonard around, and he lifted everyone’s spirits,” Bob Zebroski, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Liberal Arts and professor of history, said. “Leonard was, at heart, a curious, hardworking and fun-loving guy. He knew intuitively that people don’t care what you know unless they know you care about them.“
During his tenure, Naeger earned the Dedicated Service to the College Award, the Distinguished Service Award and was honored as a Lifetime Member of the Mortar and Pestle Society.
His charitable legacy continues today through the Leonard L. Naeger Endowed Professorship of Pharmacology and Leonard L. Naeger '63/'65 Kappa Psi Memorial Scholarship.
Although Naeger has passed, his presence is still felt on campus today as the next generation of students pass by the statue with the fuzzy bunny slippers.
To learn more about establishing your own legacy at the College, visit stlcop.edu/give.