JACKSON, Tenn. – June 30, 2009 – Union University's School of Pharmacy has been awarded "candidate status" by the Accreditation Council of Pharmacy Education, a major milestone on the journey to achieving full accreditation upon graduation of the first class of students in 2012.
"This is an extremely important step in the pharmacy school accreditation process," said Sheila Mitchell, founding dean of Union's School of Pharmacy. "Graduates of a class designated as having candidate status have the same rights and privileges as graduates of an accredited program."
An ACPE representative notified Mitchell of the decision June 29 following the annual ACPE board meeting. Mitchell said the ACPE representative told her that a plan for pharmacy education "doesn't get any better than this."
Candidate status implies that ACPE expects the program will become accredited when the first class graduates, Mitchell said.
A year ago, the ACPE granted Union’s pharmacy program "pre-candidate status," and ACPE representatives visited Union this spring to assess the program's process. On April 17, Union broke ground on a new building that will house the School of Pharmacy. The building is scheduled for completion by the summer of 2010.
Union's first class in the School of Pharmacy finished its first year of studies in May, and a second class in the four-year program will begin coursework this fall. Once accreditation is granted, it will apply retroactively to the classes already in the process of completion, and those that have finished the program.
"If we continue on the plan exactly as we have mapped it out, we do not expect another accreditation visit for two years," Mitchell said. "The faculty and staff have worked diligently to reach this point and are very confident and excited about the potential of the School and the future of the students who will graduate from this excellent program."
Union University President David S. Dockery congratulated Mitchell, Provost Carla Sanderson and the entire School of Pharmacy faculty and staff for the accomplishment.
"This is great news for our students and points to the high quality of the program that is being developed," Dockery said. "Furthermore, we are grateful to the Union University Board of Trustees, the West Tennessee health care community and the numerous friends who have been instrumental in reaching this important milestone."