With accreditation on the line, the UH Hilo College of Pharmacy, which is also the only College of Pharmacy in the entire Pacific region, hopes to get funding from the State Legislature for the construction of a permanent facility.
“The pharmacist is really a very well respected, trusted health care professional. We were very excited to open the first and only College of Pharmacy in Hawaiʻi. But amazing enough not only Hawaiʻi, but in the entire Pacific region.” says Dr. John Pezzuto, Dean of the College of Pharmacy at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo.
From its beginning class in 2007, the College of Pharmacy has grown to a faculty of about 75, and has graduated two classes of student pharmacists. They were also able to gain full accreditation from The Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education.
“We’ve had site visitors for professional accreditation. We have 30 rigorous standards we need to meet, 75 guidelines we need to meet, and some of these important guidelines have to deal with our physical facility.” says Dean Pezzuto.
Kyle Kumashiro, a 3rd year pharmacy student says that, “right now, how it’s situated is that our students are located in one area, our faculty is located in another area, and our research buildings are located in another area that is totally opposite of town.”
“Because our physical facility is spread out and temporary, if this continues, for much longer, our accreditation will be in jeopardy. We have a goal to be a top 25 College. And if you look at the statistics of any top 25 college, you cannot find one that doesn’t have a building that isn’t in seven different sites; some sites spread seven, eight miles apart. In order for us to basically move to the next level, we need to be literally grounded in a permanent building.” says Dean Pezzuto.
Kumashiro further expressed that, “as a student, having a new building here would just put us over the top. All of the top programs in the nation have a great building for themselves. They all have excellent science facilities, excellent technology. And by having that, we really can reach our goal.”
The college was given 5.5 million dollars by the state to plan a new building. A design was completed, which incorporates Hawaiian culture, and a location is set aside for the new building to be constructed upon. However, receiving the funding from the state legislature remains as the last obstacle for the school.
“Of course, there has been an economic downturn. But I think what people need to realize is how much we are contributing to the state and to the region. Our college of pharmacy actually contributes 15 million dollars per year, per year into the economy. It’s an investment in the future; obviously for our students, for our citizens, for health care improvements, but it’s also an economic investment.” says Dean Pezzuto
Faculty and students plan to advocate at the State legislature. The College of Pharmacy is also asking support from the community at large.
“This is Hawaiʻis College of Pharmacy.” says Dean Pezzuto. “We have students from every neighbor island. Based on those actual facts, based on our accomplishments, let their state legislative people know that they support this college. And to support this college is to support the building of, the construction of a permanent facility.”
Site visitors for accreditation will be revisiting the College of Pharmacy in April with hope that by then, the college will have been allowed funding for their building. This is Kuʻulei Bezilla with ʻŌiwiTV, aloha.