HARRISON COUNTY -- Students, get ready to put on your white coats.
William Carey University announced Friday plans to open a school of pharmacy at its Tradition campus in Biloxi.
The school would be the second pharmacy program in the state. Ole Miss has a pharmacy school on its Oxford campus.
William Carey President Tommy King said the pharmacy school is a dream come true for the university. He said it makes sense on the Coast.
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"There are no pharmacy schools like this along the Coast ...," he said. "We're also blessed to have several hospitals and clinics in (those areas). The opportunity for growth is amazing."
The university has an ambitious start date for the school -- fall 2018.
King said the school has $3.2 million for the startup but will need roughly $600,000 more, mainly to pay the salaries of teachers it has recruited.
The school will still have to agree on a location for the pharmacy school building. Janet Williams, dean of the School of Nursing, said school officials are considering putting it on the southeast side of the administration building.
The school has needed another building for years.
"What we have now was built for about 750 students and we have 1,200," she said. "So it's something we already need."
She said officials were looking at having an initial faculty of about eight teachers. That will grow every year, she said.
The university envisions enrolling 65 to 70 students for the school's first semester, then increasing that to about 90 students.
Williams said students can complete the pharmacy program's requirements in three years.
William Carey has hired a dean of pharmacy to oversee the program. Michael Malloy will start Aug. 1.
Malloy moved to the Coast after working at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences in Worcester for 16 years. He'd been dean of the college for the last five years. He has a total of 29 years of experience in pharmacy education. He earned undergraduate degrees in chemistry and pharmacy at the University of Florida and University of Miami. He continued his studies in clinical pharmacy at New York University in Buffalo. He has co-authored more than 15 peer-reviewed articles.
"I'm humbled, excited to be founding a school of pharmacy in an area that could certainly use the health-care profession," he said. "I have the opportunity to impact the Coast by sending out my students to hospital clinics in a nice coat with a William Carey badge. It's quite an honor."
The school of pharmacy has the potential to bring in students from all over the world.
"In Worcester, I have students from Saudi Arabia, Korea, everywhere. I think we can do that here."
He also noted pharmacy students tend to be older than traditional first-year students, meaning many will bring their families with him and settle down in the community.
"Being part of the community," he said, "that's a really, really important thing to me. It's not just about the pharmacy. It's about the community."