Auburn University and the University of South Alabama celebrated the first class to graduate from the Auburn University Harrison School of Pharmacy on the University of South Alabama campus with a ceremony at 6 p.m., Friday, March 18, at the Student Center.
In 2006, the two universities joined forces to address the shortage of trained pharmacists in Alabama, especially the Gulf Coast, as well as the nation.
The administration at Auburn and USA agreed that the most cost-effective and fastest way to meet the critical need was to use Auburn’s Harrison School of Pharmacy, an established, accredited institution, and create a satellite campus at USA, an established, accredited medical school.
At the time, Auburn was the only public university in Alabama offering the doctor of pharmacy degree. There was only one pharmacist for every 1,200 people in Mobile and Baldwin counties in Alabama, and one for every 1,500 people in Alabama's rural areas.
"Auburn and the University of South Alabama formed this partnership to address the extreme shortage of pharmacists in our state and nationally," said Auburn President Jay Gogue. "Because both schools already had such strong programs in preparing pharmacists and medical professionals, we were able to move quickly, create a more geographically accessible program for the Gulf areas, and prepare an outstanding core of graduates in a relatively short period of time."
Lee Evans, dean of Auburn’s Harrison School of Pharmacy, said the use of Auburn’s pharmacy programs was a natural complement to USA’s medical programs, and combining already established and reputable programs creates even more benefit and experience for students of the program.
“The University of South Alabama is gratified that this cooperative effort with Auburn University is addressing the need for more pharmacists in the Gulf Coast region and beyond, contributing to better health and a greater quality of life for our citizens,” said USA President Gordon Moulton.
By receiving instruction from resident pharmacy faculty and from the main campus via video conferencing, the academic experience and professional training has been enriched for students on both campuses, added Evans.
“I always felt that I had the best of both worlds: the close-knit environment of the Mobile campus with all of the opportunities offered at the main campus,” said MaryAnn Birch, a graduating Mobile pharmacy student.
The majority of the 20 graduates in this first class plan to serve the state of Alabama where the percentage of pharmacists is drastically lower than elsewhere, increasing the accessibility of quality health care for state residents.
HSOP Mobile graduates will accept degrees from the Auburn University Harrison School of Pharmacy at the University of South Alabama during May commencement.