Education

A look at the new school that could be a big boost to the Coast economy

William Carey University opened its School of Pharmacy on Monday at the Tradition Campus in Biloxi. Pharmacy school students Madeline Sheller of Petal, Jordyn Mitchell of Picayune and Karen Fountain of Gulfport, who earned their bachelor’s degrees at WCU, attend the school’s opening on Monday, July 23, 2018.
William Carey University opened its School of Pharmacy on Monday at the Tradition Campus in Biloxi. Pharmacy school students Madeline Sheller of Petal, Jordyn Mitchell of Picayune and Karen Fountain of Gulfport, who earned their bachelor’s degrees at WCU, attend the school’s opening on Monday, July 23, 2018. Courtesy William Carey University

Coast students looking to earn a degree in a high-paying profession have more options now that a new pharmacy school has opened.

William Carey University’s Tradition Campus in Biloxi opened its new School of Pharmacy on Monday. It has an accelerated program that allows students to get a doctorate of pharmacy in just under three years, which is about 14 months shorter than a normal program.

“Classes will meet year-round in four terms of 10 weeks each. It is one of only 11 accelerated pharmacy programs in the country and the only one in Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana,” said Suzanne Monk, media relations director for William Carey.

The only other school in the state that offers a doctorate of pharmacy is Ole Miss. Xavier University in New Orleans and University of Louisiana Monroe also have pharmacy schools.

“This is the only doctorate-level degree in health sciences on the Coast,” School of Pharmacy Dean Michael Malloy said.

The economic impact

William Carey officials are counting on the new school to bring money to the Coast economy, both immediately and in the future.

“The economic impact for the school of pharmacy comes in stages, with initial start-up costs which include faculty, staff and buildings,” said Prevost Scott Hummel. “That is about $10 million, including the building. Many faculty have relocated from other parts of their country and they are buying homes and spending in the area.”

Hummel said the convenience of having a pharmacy school on the Coast also stimulates the local economy.

“This includes nearly 60 students who have stayed or moved into the area,” he said. “By the third year, the number of students will be about 180. Research into pharmaceuticals and collaboration with pharmaceutical companies could have an additional economic impact.”

With hundreds of pharmacies along the Coast, Hummel said the school will also provide new professionals for the local workforce.

The average salary for a pharmacist in the U.S. is just over $120,000, according to U.S. News & World Report.

“Every year 60 pharmacists will graduate and add to the local and national economy with their high paying jobs,” Hummel said. “Many will create new pharmacies and jobs in addition to their own.”

‘An opportunity we haven’t had before’

Ashley Edwards, president of the Gulf Coast Business Council, said health care is a growing industry on the Coast.

“It’s clear from national economy data that a place for economic growth on the Gulf Coast is in the health care market,” Edwards said. “This is due to several factors including an aging population.”

By combining the education and health care markets, Edwards said, the Coast is going to get the “biggest bang for its buck.”

“We will not only be attracting the educators but we will be able to keep some of the students they teach when they graduate and enter the local job market,” he said. “By having a professional university program like the pharmacy school, it gives us an opportunity that we haven’t quite had in the past.”

Thomas Loll, 20, his mother Esther Faye Clay-Arant, 37, and grandmother, Diane Robinson, 61, will graduate this week from college. The three are graduating from three different South Mississippi institutions.

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