UPDATE 4/27/12 @ 9:15 p.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) -- The University of Charleston has decided against opening a branch of its pharmacy school in Kentucky.
President Edwin Welch said in a statement Friday that the school's Board of Trustees concluded that opening a branch at Midway College in Paintsville, Ky., wasn't in the best interests of the university.
The two institutions started discussions in January regarding the branch pharmacy school proposal. It would have established a four-year pharmacy doctorate program at the Paintsville campus starting in January 2013.
The University of Charleston's pharmacy school opened in 2006 and graduated its first class in 2010. It has a current enrollment of 290 students.
But, the name on the school now has new ties to West Virginia. The University of Charleston has spent several years building a strong name for its own pharmacy school. Now, it's lending that expertise and resources to the Paintsville, Ky., area.
It's a familiar name spreading its wings from the heart of the Mountain
State over to the eastern foothills of the Bluegrass State. Midway College's Paintsville campus will join forces with the University of Charleston to open a pharmacy school at the eastern Kentucky location.
“In a day where institutions are shrinking, we're thrilled to be expanding through the University of Charleston in a time of scarcity,” Midway College President Dr. William Drake said.
Drake is the president of Midway College. The Paintsville campus announced plans two years ago to open its own pharmacy school to fill the shortage of pharmacists in eastern Kentucky. But now there's a change of plans.
“We approached the University of Charleston because of its reputation as an academic institution and its reputation with the pharmacy school,” Drake said.
“On the one hand, you're helping students and faculty planning on a school at one site," University of Charleston President Ed Welch said. "On the other hand, we're helping to expand our program at the University of Charleston."
The University of Charleston started a pharmacy school in 2004. The school currently has 290 students and is fully accredited. Midway officials say the time, money and resources UC has already invested will help them hit the ground running. But, there will be a little bit of a restart with prospective students, faculty and staff.
“I’m excited about doing my education and maintain my roots,” one prospective pharmacy school student said.
It's providing a much-needed opportunity in an area that needs it most.
At this point, the two schools have only signed a letter intent -- meaning this partnership isn't a done deal yet, but lets them talk further about the particulars of making it work.
The final decision should be made by the end of February.
If a final agreement is reached, the University of Charleston would operate the school of pharmacy in Kentucky as a branch campus and deliver its full four-year Pharm.D. program in Paintsville beginning in January 2013.
In January 2010, Midway College announced plans to create a pharmacy program in Paintsville. The school has already renovated a 36,000-square-foot facility in Paintsville and has begun the process of recruiting faculty and students. It was expected to open in the fall of last year.
According to a press release, the agreement enables Midway College to fulfill the intent of its major donors to train pharmacists in Paintsville and serve the educational needs of the area, while allowing the University of Charleston to expand its footprint and grow its already strong academic program.
The Paintsville school will be known as the University of Charleston School of Pharmacy, in the Perry Center for Pharmacy Education at the Midway College Paintsville campus, or a similar name to be agreed upon later by both parties. The campus building will bear the name "The Chad Perry Center for Pharmacy Education," along with the names of both schools.
"Midway College sees this as the most prudent means of bringing pharmacy education to the area and fulfilling all of our goals," said Dr. William B. Drake, Jr., President of Midway College. "Building a school from the ground up takes great effort, time, money and innovation. This collaboration is innovative - we are matching our turnkey facility with UC's existing curriculum to move along the process of realizing the dream of opening a school of pharmacy in Paintsville less expensively for all involved. This gets us to where we want to be, sooner rather than later."
Midway's current faculty and staff will be interviewed by the University of Charleston for positions needed at the Paintsville site, assuming a final agreement is reached, and Midway's current accepted pharmacy students will be encouraged to apply to UC to be considered for admission into the University of Charleston program.
The University of Charleston School of Pharmacy was founded in 2004 in response to a shortage of pharmacists in rural Appalachia. Its first class of approximately 75 pharmacy students entered in 2006 and received their doctorates of pharmacy (Pharm.D.) in 2010
"From day one, the mission has been to prepare pharmacists to meet the needs of rural West Virginia and the Appalachian region, said Dr. Edwin Welch, president of the University of Charleston. "This potential expansion is a continuation of that interest. The University of Charleston has a long history of innovative solutions like working with the City of Charleston to provide preventive medication counseling to its employees, and collaborating with other colleges to utilize shared computing resources in the Independent College Enterprise (ICE). We are happy to bring that expertise to this opportunity in Kentucky."
The two schools signed a partnership on Wednesday.
The agreement means each year, ten Pikeville College graduates who meet the qualifications will automatically gain admission and a spot in the pharmacy class of 80 students.
“Because of the number of students that apply to pharmacy schools, we could fill enrollment with students from California, there are that many, but we started this school to serve Appalachia,” William B. Drake Jr. said.
Officials believe this will ease the pharmacist shortage in Appalachia because the local students will stay in eastern Kentucky and work.
The pharmacy school is expected to open next year.
Congressman Hal Rogers and Speaker Greg Stumbo, along with other legislators, local officials and Midway College administrators, were on hand to make the announcement at Johnson Central High School .
Midway College President Dr. William B. Drake, Jr. explained why the college was starting this particular initiative and more details of the project.
"Some will ask why Midway College? Why Paintsville? And why now? The answers to those questions are simple. First, it fits our College's mission and fits into the growth of our health curriculum. Second, this community is supportive of this type of project. They understand the value of education. And it is an incredibly attractive place to work, live and earn your professional degree. We say, why not Paintsville. And why now? Because there is a need for pharmacists all across the nation. Based on industry information there are approximately five applications for each opening at pharmacy schools in the U.S."
As we first reported, the Pharmacy will be located temporarily on the Mayo Campus of Big Sandy Regional and Technical Center in Paintsville until a permanent campus can be found.
The School of Pharmacy will offer a fully accredited Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) degree. The Pharm.D. is the single entry professional degree in the United States to become a pharmacist.
The School will enroll up to 80 students per year; 320 students maximum when fully operational.
They will employee approximately 100 full and part-time faculty and staff members; many of the faculty will be recruited from outside of Kentucky due to the specialized nature of the pharmacy curriculum.
In January 2011, they will ll begin accepting students for August 2011. The average annual tuition per student is $31,000.
Dr. Lanny Foss has been hired as the founding dean of the Midway College School of Pharmacy. Dr. Foss has over 30 years of experience and has been working with Midway College since May 2009 on this initiative.
College officials, along with community and government leaders, will make the official announcement Monday morning during a news conference at Johnson Central High School.
We’re told the school will be temporarily housed on the Big Sandy Technical College Campus.
Sources tell WSAZ.com that the school will enroll up to 80 students a year; with a maximum of 320 students in the four year class.
We’re told the school will begin accepting applications in January 2011, with the first classes in the fall of 2011.
The opening of the school is expected to also create 100 new jobs.
Midway College, located in Midway, Ky., was founded in 1847 as the first school in the United States to serve orphaned and disadvantaged students.
Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for updated information.
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