Faculty Senate hears of pharmacy school proposal

By Katie Ellis

An update on the status of the University's request to establish a school of pharmacy was the first item on the agenda for the first Faculty Senate meeting of the academic year on Oct. 29. Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Donald Nieman addressed the senators, providing a history of the process.

First, the University asked a few questions, Nieman said. Among them, "Is this something that is good for our students and the state of New York? Does it increase revenue?" When considering a school of pharmacy, the answers were yes, he said.

Given Binghamton University's focus on health sciences, Nieman said further enhancement of the strengths in this area would be responsive to societal needs and, with the dramatic shift of federal funding toward health issues, would also provide opportunities to attract federal funding.  "We would have opportunities there," he said. "A pharmacy school would have the potential to significantly increase what we can do in the areas of health sciences."

With backing from the Creative Activities and Research Road Map Team which put it forward as a project, the University conducted a feasibility study last spring and hired a consultant – a retired pharmacy school dean – to provide perspective.  "We also asked the Office of Institutional Research and Assessment to do an environmental scan of pharmacy schools and convened a group of faculty members who have research interests that mesh with pharmacy," Nieman said. "We considered how a school of pharmacy would fit with and enhance existing research programs here. After extensive surveying of faculty across campus we found that were really strong programmatic relationships with every school at Binghamton."

UHS and Lourdes Hospital CEOs were also consulted and very enthusiastic about partnership with the University in pharmacy, Nieman said, "and that's critical for clinical placements for our students."

Overall, Nieman said there is a strong demand for pharmacy, pharmacy students would fit in well with the University's academic profile, there are good placement opportunities for students and the ability to develop a PhD program in pharmaceutical sciences once the PharmD program is approved and in place.

"We have a very large number of pre-health students at Binghamton and we actually send more students to med school than law school and a considerable number of those to pharmacy," Nieman said. "Buffalo (the only current public school of pharmacy in New York state) gets nine apps for every seat."

Opportunities exist to help increase the University's life science research as well, and to provide more powerful collaborations to compete for different kinds of funding to support our research, Nieman added.

The University sent its Letter of Intent to establish a PharmD program to SUNY in September and a full proposal will be presented later this year, Nieman said. The University is targeting 2017 to admit its first cohort of 60 students in a PharmD program, to be fully formed with about 240 students for the practitioner, clinical degree.

"The timeline is aggressive, but feasible," Nieman said. "This fits closely with our strategic plan to increase graduate programs and research, meets societal needs, provides our students with good employment opportunities, and it will allow us to recoup initial costs and generate revenue in the process."




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Last Updated: 9/26/16