East Hawaii News

Scaled-Down Pharmacy College Building Proposed

October 16, 2013, 5:07 PM HST
* Updated November 27, 4:54 PM
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***Updated Thursday, Oct. 17, to clarify the accreditation status.***

University of Hawaii at Hilo Chancellor Don Straney expects that a scaled-down version of a new building to house the Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy will be approved by the board of regents next week.

Straney spoke to the media about the project Tuesday at the UH-Hilo campus.

Pharmacy school backers at the Hilo campus were stunned earlier this year when the state Legislature killed a $38 million proposal for a structure that would help cement the six-year-old school’s accreditation.

The college has been fully accredited since 2011, the year the first class graduated, but was given a warning by accreditation reviewers this year for not having proper facilities.

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The new plan, which would have to go back to the Legislature for approval in 2014, lops off one of three stories from the earlier plan and has less space for future growth in pharmacy research, Straney said. The new plan also eliminates an ornately styled-roof that drew some criticism.

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The new design also drops the cost of the building to $28 million, $5 million less than was asked of the regents last year. “We made it a more modest building, a classroom building. It’s a more straightforward proposal,” Straney said.

Straney said he expects the board of regents to keep the pharmacy school building as the university system’s top capital funding priority, as it was in last year’s BOR budget, when the board meets Thursday, Oct. 24.

About 400 students in the school currently meet in temporary modular structures on the campus and in the former hospital building on Rainbow Drive. Three classes have been graduated from the fledgling program so far.

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About half the school’s graduates get “frontline” jobs as pharmacists directly serving the public. Others continue training for specialized positions, some have taken teaching positions, and others join research labs in the pharmaceutical industry, Straney said. The information comes from the 75% of graduates who report their status to the school following graduation.

Straney said the regents’ approval will meet the school’s critical accreditation need “in the time frame” necessary. “I’m optimistic,” he said. “We’re going to hit it hard.

“This is an investment in the quality of health care in Hawaii.”

Straney was not so sure about the Legislature, however. “I wouldn’t speculate,” said Straney, but he expressed “complete confidence that the Legislature has the best interests of the state at heart.”

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