Pharmacy School Faces Faculty Deficit

    Unable to maintain an acceptable student-to-staff ratio in the face of increasing enrollment and decreased state funding, UCSD’s Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences will this year receive emergency campus funds intended to bail the fledgling graduate school out of its insufficient-faculty crisis.

    Upon a visit from the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education next month, campus officials must propose a plan to dramatically increase the size of the pharmacy school’s faculty in order to meet the mandated faculty-to-student ratio. Skaggs faces the possibility of being denied accreditation renewal if failing to do so.

    The plan — currently under draft with the cooperation of Chancellor Marye Anne Fox and the University of California Office of the President — would open 14 new permanent faculty positions, requiring an additional $3 million in funding.

    In their focus-site visit, the ACPE will analyze the pharmacy school’s individual programs in order to ascertain whether sufficient faculty, funds and resources exist to maintain these programs.

    Skaggs School Dean Palmer Taylor said he is confident the university will find the resources necessary to maintain the school’s accreditation, citing the state’s recent budget stalemate as reason for campus officials’ failure to finalize the school’s assistance plan.

    “It would be fair to say that we have a plan already,” Taylor said. “It just hasn’t been fully agreed upon, and I think that’s understandable because of the difficulty and slowness of the state budget.”

    The Skaggs School budget is composed of state support through UCOP, student tuition and fees, pharmacy alottments from UCSD Healthcare, research support and philanthropy. The latter two categories are directed to specific research objectives and achieving a level of excellence in academic pharmacy.

    According to Taylor, Fox acknowledges that the pharmacy school has been shortchanged by UCOP in the past, and says that the school must now make up for this deficiency.

    When the Skaggs School opened its doors in 2002, bolstered by the abundance of thriving pharmaceutical and biotechnological companies in the surrounding area, the school accepted 24 post-baccalaureate students with promising GPAs pursuing graduate degrees in pharmacy or the Pharm.D program. With the grand opening of the Pharmaceutical Sciences building in 2006, the acceptance rate increased to 60 percent, leading to the issue of insufficient faculty.

    Taylor said that despite the problems increased enrollment has brought the school, such developments are necessary to propel the institution forward.

    “We needed that diversity of income and diversity of programs to be a full-fledged pharmacy school,” Taylor said. “You just cannot run a program with a diversity of courses with 25 students per class. When we planned the school, we felt that 60 students per class was the smallest it could be while still having an economy of scale.”

    Skaggs School Director of Research Communications Debra Kain said she is confident that the school will receive the funding necessary to continue operations.

    “I don’t think anybody feels like the accreditation is at risk,” she said.

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