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PC Trustees Vote to Start New Pharmacy School in S.C.

CLINTON, S.C., Feb. 27 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Presbyterian College's board of trustees approved a proposal today to create a new pharmacy school in Upstate South Carolina.

The pharmacy program will serve a total of 300 students and, pending accreditation, is expected to open in the fall of 2010.

The proposal, which was presented to trustees by PC president Dr. John V. Griffith, resulted from two years of research and study conducted by members of the college faculty and staff, several trustees, and in consultation with pharmacy professionals.

"I am very pleased with the quality of research that has gone into this historic decision and equally pleased by the visionary leadership of our board of trustees," Griffith said. "A pharmacy school will enhance our mission as a church-related liberal arts college and leader in higher education by addressing a key need of the citizens of South Carolina."

The college will now begin the search for a dean for the pharmacy school, who will lead the new program through the accreditation process. The new school will not be housed on-campus but will, instead, take up residence somewhere in the Upstate, preferably still in Laurens County.

The idea for starting a new pharmacy school was first planted in 2006 by an anonymous friend of the college who funded the first feasibility study. In 2007, a second study detailing how the college might develop a pharmacy program was co-chaired by Daniel Professor of Chemistry Dr. Ed Gouge and Bob Staton, PC's executive vice president for external relations.

Consulting with Joe Dean, the former dean of the Samford University School of Pharmacy, the study focused on accreditation and governance, faculty and curriculum, finances and facilities, and the impact a pharmacy school might have on the character of the college.

According to Staton, a pharmacy school is in perfect harmony with the mission of the college.

"A pharmacy school builds on the existing strengths of the college - especially the sciences and our commitment to service," he said. "By building a program focused on producing pharmacy practitioners - pharmacists who will serve in communities - we believe we'll have a program whose cornerstone is similar to our undergraduate program and a complement to our motto - 'While we live, we serve.'"

PC graduates have built an impressive reputation for the health sciences - sending top graduates to medical schools, dental schools, pharmacy schools, and veterinary schools. In recent years, PC alumni have been recognized as the top graduates of classes at the Medical University of South Carolina. Three of the 90 first-year students entering the University of Georgia's veterinary medicine program in the fall of 2007 were PC alumni, and a PC alumna has been elected the commencement speaker for the 2008 class of the USC School of Pharmacy. This year thus far, five PC seniors have been accepted to dental school, three into pharmacy school, one into medical school, and one into optometry school.

"We're very proud of our students who go into health-related fields," said Griffith. "They have been outstanding graduate students and, more importantly, outstanding health care providers."

The first study revealed a tremendous need for pharmacists; the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates a 157,000 shortfall in pharmacists by the year 2020 - especially in the Southeast. School officials agree that a pharmacy school would address the need for highly qualified pharmacists who will serve a rapidly aging population demanding more health care services.

Study co-director Ed Gouge complimented his colleagues on the faculty who voted to endorse the plan this semester, along with members of the college's Administrative Council and the Student Government Association.

"I really appreciate the fact that the faculty, our advisory boards, our staff, and our students studied the report seriously and made recommendations," he said.

Gouge likened the process to conducting research in a chemical laboratory - testing hypotheses and making discoveries.

"We went into this as objectively as we possibly could," he said. "We kept our minds open and probably the most difficult thing I had to face was to maintain my objectivity because the more we uncovered, the more enthusiastic I became supporting the idea."

PC joins a number of schools have established graduate programs in concert with their undergraduate liberal arts programs - including the University of the South, Washington and Lee University, Furman University and Rhodes College.

"Our action today provides another avenue to prepare servant leaders for our communities," said trustee chairman Bill Shearer. "It is a significant accomplishment for Presbyterian College, for all who share its mission, and one day for the people its graduates will serve. We look forward to that day."

SOURCE Presbyterian College
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