The Binghamton University Office of Academic Affairs is looking into the possibility of creating a pharmacy school.
Donald Nieman, provost and vice president of academic affairs, is heading a study that he says will focus on both the financial feasibility and the academic merit of building the school.
“While we need to study this idea carefully before we decide to move forward, it offers the potential to increase research in the life sciences, grow graduate student enrollment, and serve undergraduate students who are interested in pursuing careers in the health sciences,” Nieman wrote in an email to Pipe Dream.
To complete the study, Nieman will select a committee of roughly half a dozen faculty from science departments and programs with a potential relationship to a pharmaceutical studies department. He said he hopes the study will be finished later this year, between May and September.
“You want to do this deliberately, but by the same token, if we’re going to go ahead with this, you want to be in a position to do it when people might benefit from it,” Nieman said.
Though talk of building a pharmacy school began in 2010, the idea was brought up recently in a proposal from the Creative Activities and Research team of BU President Harvey Stenger’s Road Map to Success. According to the proposal, the school “could potentially open in 4-5 years and confer first degrees in 6-8 years.”
The proposal suggests that the building of a pharmacy school would improve research funding as well as attract a stronger graduate student body.
The State University of New York at Buffalo is the only public university in New York with a pharmacy school. A pharmacy program at BU would offer a Pharm D, a practitioner’s degree, and a doctorate in pharmaceutical sciences, a research degree.
Roughly 35 percent of BU undergraduate students major in the STEM areas — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — according to Nieman.
“I think there would be a lot of interest among Binghamton students,” Nieman said. “For a lot of our pre-health students, having a pharmacy school here would probably open their eyes to the idea of pharmacy.”
If the University decides to pursue a pharmacy school, it would need approval from SUNY and the New York State Education Department before seeking accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education, according to Nieman.
Sarah Netz, a junior majoring in biochemistry, plans to attend pharmacy school after she graduates.
“I wanted to enter the health field but I didn’t want to be a doctor,” Netz said. “I looked into pharmacy and it seemed exactly what I wanted. It opens all kinds of doors from research and development to just working in a pharmacy and interacting with people.”
Netz said she thinks a lot of students would apply to pharmacy programs at BU if they were offered.
“I wish it existed now,” Netz said. “Pharmacy is becoming more popular so there should be more affordable in-state pharmacy programs. I love Binghamton, I wish I could do my graduate school here.”