East Hawaii News

Group Lobbying Lawmakers for Pharmacy School Building

April 10, 2013, 5:41 PM HST
* Updated April 10, 5:45 PM
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A group that includes Big Island business and community leaders is asking the state House of Representatives to fund a permanent home for the University of Hawaii at Hilo’s pharmacy school.

The Friends of Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy has submitted 270 letters of support urging House members to add the appropriation to its version of the state’s budget.

The Senate has included $38 million for the new building in its budget.

The group, as do UH-Hilo officials, believes the college risks loss of accreditation if it does not establish permanent facilities.

The pharmacy school, which is currently operating out of temporary facilities, is the only one in the Pacific.

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According to Friends, at least half of the students enrolled are from Hawaii, representing all islands, and half are women.

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It said the college employs 54 faculty and staff in Hilo, and pharmacies across the state participate in programs and internships.

Friends said in the five years since its first students were admitted, the College of Pharmacy has competed for and been awarded more than $30 million in federal rural health awards.

“It’s not likely that an urban university such as Manoa would be able to attract those rural dollars,” said Barry Mark, a Hilo financial advisor who is one of the leaders of the Friends of the College of Pharmacy.

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“We are urging people across the state to take a look at the benefits the College of Pharmacy brings our state, and if they agree as we do, to join us in writing, calling or visiting legislators, particularly those in the House of Representatives,” Mark said.

As an economic engine, the College of Pharmacy generates more than four times the funds it receives for its annual operating budget from the state, the group said.

The Friends of the Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy is an ad hoc group of business people, community leaders and academics supporting the pharmacy building construction.

Included in the group are the Hawaii Island Chamber of Commerce and the Japanese Chamber of Commerce & Industry of Hawaii.

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