Gov. Rick Perry signed Senate Bill 566 paving the way for the creation of a pharmacy school at The University of Texas at Tyler.
With the governor’s approval, the next step lies in the hands of the UT System Board of Regents, which must officially establish the school, according to a UT Tyler news release.
Once it is established, the university will formally begin the accreditation process with plans to enroll its first class in fall 2015, according to the news release.
A joint proposal from UT Tyler and UT Health Northeast, the school is intended to fulfill a crucial East Texas workforce need for pharmacists.
“UT Tyler learned from our businesses and hospitals that we face a dire need for pharmacists, especially in the East Texas region,” UT Tyler President Rod Mabry said, according to the news release. “With our track record of quickly establishing successful health care programs, it was a perfect fit for the university, the community and the state as a whole.”
The proposed school would use a self-supporting model based on the successful experience at East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, Tenn., according to the news release.
In this model, the school would require no state funds to operate. Rather, it would rely on philanthropic gifts and student tuition, according to the news release.
UT Tyler projects this tuition would remain lower than the average out-of-state tuition charged at pharmacy schools nationwide.
Almost 600 Texas residents attended pharmacy school in another state during the 2012–13 academic year, according to the news release.
State Sen. Kevin Eltife, R-Tyler, authored SB 566 and guided it through the legislative process. State Sen. Robert Nichols, R-Jacksonville, served as a co-author, and State Rep. Travis Clardy, R-Nacogdoches, served as the sponsor of the bill with nine more East Texas representatives signing on as co-sponsors.
“As the health care hub of East Texas, we must make sure that our workforce has the training necessary to provide second-to-none care to our citizens,” Eltife said, according to the news release. “The self-supporting pharmacy school at UT Tyler provides a conservative, market-based approach to solve a challenge facing our community.”
The UT Tyler pharmacy school likely would enroll about 100 students annually.