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Monday November 28th

BOG, General Assembly Dispute New Pharmacy Program

Program would cost system $7 million.

An N.C. Senate 2002-03 budget provision that might be included in the finalized budget stipulates that a stand-alone pharmacy school at Elizabeth City State University be fully accredited and staffed by the 2004-05 academic year.

Amy Fulk, press secretary for Sen. President Pro Tem Marc Basnight, D-Dare, said Senate officials asked the BOG to begin a study last year evaluating the need for an additional pharmacy school in the system and the feasibility of developing one.

"The BOG looked into two options for the pharmacy school: a stand-alone school, which would cost $7 million, and a joint-school, which would cost $3 million," Fulk said.

The BOG then recommended a cooperative program with UNC-Chapel Hill's School of Pharmacy because of North Carolina's tight budget situation.

But the N.C. General Assembly continued to pursue the issue after the N.C. House reiterated the Senate's request for a stand-alone facility at Elizabeth City State and added a request for a stand-alone engineering school at East Carolina University. The House also called for engineering programs at Western Carolina University and UNC-Asheville.

Fulk said the House did not request feasibility studies before making its additional requests.

"The House Budget Committee saw the proposal for the (Elizabeth City State) pharmacy school and added additional programs," Fulk said.

BOG officials maintain their earlier recommendations, which call for a joint program with UNC-CH rather than a stand-alone facility at Elizabeth City State because of cost issues.

"Setting up additional stand-alone pharmacy schools is important to the BOG, but it's not feasible at this time," said Teena Little, BOG vice chairwoman. "With a cooperative program, the accreditation would already be there."

But Fulk said the stand-alone school would create a needed job market in the eastern part of the state.

The opportunities available in that area are currently dominated by students from UNC-CH's pharmacy school, she said.

Fulk said a joint school situation would only further benefit UNC-CH.

"To have a state university system, you can't have everything in Chapel Hill," Fulk said. "Every campus should have something special."

UNC-CH Chancellor James Moeser said he supported the BOG's decision to oppose the General Assembly's requests.

He said the establishment of such programs would erode the quality and purpose of UNC-CH as the system's flagship school.

"(The General Assembly's decision is) a manifestation of regional politics at play," Moeser said.

Little stressed that despite the disagreement between the General Assembly and the BOG, the two bodies are not completely at odds with each other.

She said, "We hope to individually and collectively talk to the legislature and say, 'While we want these programs, it's just not possible now'."

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