Trustees Approve Pharmacy Class Size Request

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The UT Board of Trustees unanimously approved a request from the College of Pharmacy to significantly increase class size during its quarterly meeting held in Chattanooga.

The University of Tennessee Board of Trustees unanimously approved a request from the College of Pharmacy to significantly increase class size during its quarterly meeting held in Chattanooga this week. The proposal was initiated due to concerns both nationally and in the state of Tennessee over the shortage of pharmacists.

Effective with the fall 2005 entering class, the number of students will go from 125 to 175; it will then increase to 200 in the fall of 2006. The UT College of Pharmacy is headquartered in Memphis on the UT Health Science Center campus. The newly approved proposal will allow the college to expand its current satellite campus in Knoxville and also expand clinical education centers in Nashville, Tri-Cities, Jackson and Chattanooga. The college has clinical rotation sites in 37 Tennessee counties and expects to expand this number with the increased class size, expanding its rural, community pharmacy, and statewide focus.

“Due to a significant increase in the elderly population and a number of ongoing developments impacting medication costs and prescription monitoring, a shortage of pharmacists has become a national concern,” said Dick Gourley, Pharm.D., dean of the college. “For example, enrollment at U.S. pharmacy schools has increased from 32,000 in 1999 to 43,000 in 2003.”

He stated, “For the past decade we have been proactive in addressing the workforce needs of Tennessee. During that time period, class size has been increased twice (from 70 to 100 in 1995 and 100 to 125 in 2002). Two of the college’s advisory boards recommended increasing class size to a minimum of 200 students. This action was deferred until space issues were resolved and the increase to 125 was completed.”

Dr. Gourley stressed that no additional state funding will be needed accommodate the proposal.

By 2009, total enrollment at the college will be 800 students, with 200 graduates per year, resulting in 35.7 graduates per million, which surpasses the national average of 28 graduates per million.

The UT College of Pharmacy has consistently been ranked in the top ten by U.S. News and World Report for the past decade. Also, the college has the largest number (69) of board-certified pharmacy practice faculty members in the U.S.

To enhance the college’s ability to meet future needs, plans are moving forward on a new $42.8 million building approved by the state last year. Scheduled for completion in 2008, this facility will take the place of the six buildings (some dating back to 1928) currently used by pharmacy students and faculty. The new building will be designed to accommodate up to 350 students per class and will be equipped to embrace new technologies and innovative research.