The University of Texas-Pan American will receive $500,000 over a two-year period to establish a cooperative pharmacy program with The University of Texas-Austin and a certificate program in legal reasoning.
The announcement came Tuesday morning at the International Trade and Technology Building. Among the attendees were state lawmakers, health care administrators and program officials with UT Austin and UT Pan American.
Funding for these endeavors was made possible by state Rep. Roberto Gutierrez, D-McAllen, who received approval to redirect $500,000 initially set aside for a distance learning law school between UTPA and the Texas Tech University School of Law. The Texas Tech University System decided not to pursue this venture.
Modeled after a program between UT Austin and The University of Texas at El Paso, the cooperative pharmacy program will recruit students from South Texas and the Rio Grande Valley. It is the latest of several cooperative programs created by the College of Pharmacy to bring pharmacy education to underserved areas of Texas.
"Our office began this venture three years ago when I met with James Doluisio, retired dean of the UT College of Pharmacy, to discuss an alternative way in developing a pharmacy school in the Valley," Gutierrez said. "At that time, UT Austin was working with UT El Paso in finalizing the steps to establish an innovative cooperative program."
Current UT Pharmacy Dean Steven Leslie also has been a strong supporter of the program.
After two years of basic science courses at UTPA and early admittance to the UT College of Pharmacy, qualified students would attend the UT Austin College of Pharmacy for two to 2.5 years.
Students then would return to UTPA for the final 18 months to two years of further training and clinical experience before receiving a pharmacy doctorate (Pharm.D.) degree from UT Austin. UT Pan American would be listed as the cooperating institution.
"With the Valley's population doubling since the last census, professional education in our area is in high demand as are the services they provide," said UTPA President Dr. Miguel A. Nevárez. "This cooperative pharmacy program is a cost-effective measure to teach and train our students to become top-notch pharmacists."
Dr. Helen Castillo, Dean of the College of Health Sciences and Human Services, and other administrators, including Dr. Cliff Littlefield, UT Austin associate dean of pharmacy, are establishing the final curriculum plan and required faculty positions. The program will be overseen by an assistant dean of pharmacy, who could be in place by this fall.
"The UT College of Pharmacy is delighted to work cooperatively with UT Pan American in bringing pharmacy education to this wonderful region of Texas," Littlefield said. "This program affords sons and daughters of the Rio Grande Valley an opportunity to enter the great profession of pharmacy while also promising to relieve the shortage of pharmacists in the area."
The cooperative pharmacy program administration will be based in the west wing of the Health Sciences and Human Services Building.
Meanwhile, the legal reasoning track is an 18-hour program in the Department of Political Science with courses in philosophy, political science, English and legal research and writing.
The first certificates should be awarded in summer 2001, University officials said.