Elizabeth City State Pharmacy Program Suspended

Declining enrollment at an innovative satellite program of UNC’s pharmacy school has led to the program’s suspension.

The Elizabeth City State University branch of UNC’s Eshelman School of Pharmacy has seen low numbers of applicants in recent years. UNC System President Thomas Ross ’75 (JD) suspended the program in February.

Dean Robert Blouin addressed the suspension in a statement:

“President Ross underscored that this is not a permanent closure of the program. Instead, we have been asked to suspend new admissions at that location and work with ECSU to improve on areas found to need special attention and to strengthen the student pipeline to the program while enhancing recruitment efforts.”

The ECSU program will not accept new applications for the indefinite future. It originally sought to maintain an enrollment of 15 students with a plan to expand to 32 but never reached the goal, with 14 in the first year, dropping to 11 in the 2007-08 academic year and to seven in 2010-11 before climbing to 12 last year.

Launched in 2005, the UNC/ECSU Doctor of Pharmacy Partnership Program offers students at Elizabeth City State the resources to pursue a doctorate in pharmaceutical medicine. In addition to in-class instruction from ECSU faculty, students in the program receive videoconference instruction from UNC pharmacists and complete field work in the N.C. Area Health Education Centers.

The suspension comes three years after the opening of its new 52,500-square-foot facility on the ECSU campus.

A goal of the program was to increase the number of pharmacists in rural or underserved parts of the state, especially in northeastern North Carolina. The school launched another such program at UNC-Asheville in 2010 to address a shortage of pharmacists in the western regions of the state. The Asheville program will remain open following the Elizabeth City State suspension.

“This decision in no way affects our satellite campus in Asheville,” said David Etchison ’93, director of communications.

In the March 29 edition of his newsletter, Blouin said officials at Carolina and Elizabeth City State have worked to improve the program since the suspension. In addition to hiring a student services specialist in February, the school is establishing a simplified tuition payment system and semester residencies for Elizabeth City State students at Chapel Hill.

Blouin stressed that the focus is to improve the suspended program and said he planned to keep the communities of both campuses updated on the progress.

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