Little known facts: proposed pharmacy school

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Photo courtesy of UD archives.

A few years ago, the University of Dallas seriously considered establishing a professional school of pharmacy and offering a doctor of pharmacy degree as well as a concentration in health services.

At the time, a pharmacy school might have been a prudent addition to the university.

“Pharmacy is a high-demand sector of the labor market for which there are a limited number of schools preparing students,” stated a UD document written on the subject.

The construction of this school would cost $25 million and was to be completed by 2012. The funding would arise from two sources: an endowment and tuition income.

The students attending this school would complete 160 credit hours, 52 of which would be clinical rotation requirements.

Dr. George E. MacKinnon III would have served as the founding dean and professor for the pharmacy school if the plans had not been ultimately cancelled. MacKinnon was influential in developing an innovative pharmaceutical curriculum that had been modeled by schools around the country.

Once the Board of Trustees approved the plan in October 2007, emails and information packets were sent out to many students, parents and donors.

“There is a missing piece to the large and complex puzzle of providing adequate and sustainable healthcare to the people and communities of North Texas … [UD] has made a commitment to fill this gap by establishing the University of Dallas School of Pharmacy.”

Many newspapers also informed the public of this exciting expansion.

“The growing demand for licensed pharmacists has been driven by the nation’s rapidly aging population [and] the increased role of pharmaceuticals as a main course of medical care,” Jason Roberson of The Dallas Morning News wrote.

The university believed that opening this school would allow more pharmacists to get an education in North Texas, but recruiting teachers was a major issue, and the economy at the time made it difficult to encourage donors to give large sums of money. However, emails kept in UD’s archives provide evidence for some donations.

John and Rita Feik provided the first gift — a seven figure amount — to start and open the school, and H-E-B Grocery also donated $1 million to the project.

However, this development soon fell out of attention after UD announced that the plans were to be ultimately suspended. In a letter, Dr. Frank Lazarus, president of UD, explained the reasoning behind the suspension.

“The economic conditions that affect the country have had a significant effect on our efforts to establish a pharmacy school … We will concentrate on building UD’s core strength.”

In an article written in The University News in 2009 by Mary Tetzlaff, a resident of Student Government, Mary Powers, provided her opinion on the matter.

“Student Government is very glad to hear that the pharmacy school has been suspended … [We need] to focus on building our core values.”

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