Vestal (WBNG Binghamton) -- Binghamton University is considering adding a pharmacy school, opening within three years.
President Harvey Stenger made the program a priority during his Jan. 22 State of the University address, and he appears to be following through. BU will research what it would take to bring a pharmacy program to campus, intending to release the results some time between May and September.
"I think it's a great opportunity for us to add research in pharmaceutical sciences, in collaborative and synergy with our strength in neuroscience as well as our strength in nursing and in bioengineering," Stenger said. "So it will add a whole new field of research to the campus as well as a practical career directive."
The state of New York only has seven pharmacy schools, of which only one--SUNY Buffalo--is public. None of the schools are closer than two or three hours away, Stenger said.
BU appears to be a good fit for a pharmacy program. More than a third of its students already study STEM majors -- science, technology, engineering and mathematics -- according to a Jan. 28 article in BU's student newspaper, Pipe Dream.
Plus, Stenger said, access to nearby hospitals is convenient for students who need to fill placement hours to earn their degrees.
The idea came to Stenger on a visit to SUNY Buffalo.
"I realized there was no other public option for students to doctor in pharmacy and there was no pharmaceutical sciences PhD program at Binghamton University, I thought this was a perfect opportunity," he said.
Students said they didn't have a problem with the potential expansion.
"I think a pharmacy school would be a great idea and obviously it would bring in tons of students, graduate students," said Jarrett White, a third-year student from Syracuse. "It would really help diversify this university and compete with the other schools."
"It's nice having more options," said Andy Yee, who is majoring in Computer Science.
The university's research is just the first step of what would be a long process. If the school decides to pursue a pharmacy program it would have to develop a curriculum, hire faculty and gain approval from SUNY. That all comes before accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education, according to Pipe Dream.
Nonetheless, the potential is enough to keep Stenger moving forward.
"You probably couldn't name where the great pharmacy schools are," he said. "And we want Binghamton to be great."