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Union to launch pharmacy program; WTH provides $2 million foundation gift

JACKSON, Tenn.March 29, 2007 – Union University will launch a pharmacy program and West Tennessee Healthcare has pledged $2 million to help get the program started.

The four-year Doctor of Pharmacy degree program could begin as soon as the fall semester in 2008, according to Union University President David S. Dockery. It will begin no later than fall 2009.

“The pharmacy program is one of the most exciting steps ever taken at Union University,” Dockery said. “The opportunities for service and providing care for growing needs in the health care community are significant.”

West Tennessee Healthcare’s $2 million commitment will serve as the foundation gift for the pharmacy program. Union is involved in a search process for a dean for the School of Pharmacy, and is seeking other partners and support for the program.

“We are grateful for West Tennessee Healthcare for their generous support and confidence in Union University to help address this important need in our region,” Dockery said.

Jim Moss, president and chief executive officer of West Tennessee Healthcare, said his organization was excited about being a partner with Union in this endeavor.

“The decision to partner with Union University in a pharmacy program is a continuation of a valued long-standing relationship we have with them to educate and train health care professionals for the future needs of our community,” Moss said.

In addition to the $2 million gift, WTH has also agreed to provide Union with professional support for as many as four clinical pharmacists – meaning WTH will hire the necessary pharmacists to oversee Union students working in their clinical setting.

Union began considering the addition of a pharmacy program during the summer of 2006, when members of the local health care community – including West Tennessee Healthcare – asked Union to explore the possibility of offering a pharmacy degree.

“There is a huge shortage of pharmacists in the country, and that shortage is particularly evident in Tennessee,” Dockery said. “These needs will only increase with the graying of America.”

Union appointed a feasibility study team consisting of administrators, faculty members, representatives from the heath care and pharmaceutical communities and an outside academic consultant. Carla Sanderson, Union’s provost, and Tim Smith, dean of the School of Nursing, led the study process.

This group studied the possibility of adding a pharmacy program for about five months, and in late January encouraged the Union administration to move forward with the program. The executive board of Union’s board of trustees unanimously approved the recommendation earlier this month.

On March 1, Union submitted an application with the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education, the pharmacy accrediting body, and began searching for a dean.

Each class in the new four-year graduate program will consist of 45-50 students, meaning total enrollment in the School of Pharmacy will be about 200.

Media contact: Tim Ellsworth, news@uu.edu, 731-661-5215

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