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Midway College to open pharmacy school in Eastern Kentucky

By BRUCE SCHREINER
Associated Press Writer
A small college in Kentucky's bluegrass region rolled out plans
Monday to reach into Appalachia to open a pharmacy school, vying
for a role in solving a nagging problem filling pharmacist jobs in
the state.
Midway College officials said the pharmacy school is set to open
in August 2011 in Paintsville, about two hours from the college's
main campus nestled in thoroughbred country between Frankfort and
Lexington.
Its four-year pharmacy program will enroll up to 80 students per
year, with a maximum enrollment of 320 when fully operational.
Midway College President William B. Drake Jr. called the projected
$20 million startup venture one of the biggest decisions ever for
the private college whose roots predate the Civil War.
"We're going to specifically focus on students from Appalachia
initially, and then from Kentucky," Drake said in an interview.
"Because our whole goal in this is to provide pharmacists for
Appalachia."
Kentucky has pharmacy schools at the University of Kentucky and
at Sullivan University in Louisville.
In October 2009, only Wisconsin, Alabama, Texas and West
Virginia had higher difficulty filling open pharmacist positions
than Kentucky, according to the Aggregate Demand Index, a survey
sponsored by the Pharmacy Manpower Project. Kentucky was tied for
fifth with Missouri, North Carolina and North Dakota.
"Kentucky has been consistently above the national level in the
difficulty in filling open pharmacist positions," said Katherine
Knapp, project director of the index and dean of the Touro
University California College of Pharmacy.
Kentucky House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, said the new
school "holds a lot of potential" and praised Midway College's
"willingness to do what it can to fill a need, no matter where
that might be."
Midway has already hired a dean for the pharmacy school and is
interviewing for faculty positions, Drake said. Tuition hasn't been
set but is projected to be about $31,000 a year.
The pharmacy school will employ about 100 full- and part-time
faculty and staff. Drake projected the school will generate more
than $30 million in economic activity in the Paintsville area each
year.
Tucker Daniel, the judge-executive of Johnson County, where
Paintsville is the county seat, said the pharmacy school will be
"a huge asset" to the area and beyond. Planning for the school
showed a "huge need" for pharmacists in eastern Kentucky, he
said, and the new school will help fill that gap.
The school will be located temporarily on the Mayo Campus of the
Big Sandy Regional and Technical Center in Paintsville until a
permanent campus is created, school officials said.
Drake said the college has plans for an approximately
60,000-square-foot building that will feature classrooms,
laboratories and auditorium. The college doesn't have plans for
dorms in Paintsville.
Midway will seek funding support from the Appalachian Regional
Commission, Drake said. The school also has received private
donations and Daniel said Johnson County Fiscal Court has committed
$400,000 in local economic development funding.
The University of Kentucky's highly ranked College of Pharmacy
recently began moving to its new $134 million, 286,000-square-foot
building on its Lexington campus. Classes begin in the new building
on Tuesday.
UK enrolls 513 pharmacy students, most of them coming from
across Kentucky. UK's pharmacy college was ranked fifth in the
latest U.S. News & World Report's survey of pharmacy programs.
Sullivan University, a private school, opened its College of
Pharmacy in 2008 with a class of 74 students and expects to reach
its maximum enrollment of 100 students per class in 2011, said dean
Hieu Tran.
At Midway, the pharmacy school opening is the latest expansion
effort. The college hopes to increase its enrollment from 1,800 to
4,000 by 2014. It has a women's-only day college on its main campus
in Midway, Ky., and has co-educational evening programs, coed day
programs at other locations and an online program.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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