interior of proposed pharmacy building

The Office of the Governor released of $33 million for the construction of a 35,000-square-foot instructional and research facility for the Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo.

“During the course of my administration it has been an inspiration to witness the tremendous growth and development of the Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy. Even during the controversial times of the university, this college remained steadfast and focused on providing a strong intellectual and economical environment,” said Gov. Neil Abercrombie.

The college has admitted students since 2007, initially sharing classrooms and laboratories with other departments at UH Hilo. A group of four temporary modular buildings resembling trailers allowed the college to have a presence on the UH Hilo campus since 2009, but faculty and staff were required to travel up to 7 miles away for lab and office space in three separate locations.

“A permanent home is absolutely crucial in order for the College of Pharmacy to maintain the full accreditation they have worked so hard to achieve in 2011,” said Chancellor Donald Straney. “We are grateful to the legislature and to the governor for recognizing the dire need for pharmacists who will provide an even greater service as our population ages and we experience healthcare reform.”

These funds will finance the construction of a new building that will include classrooms, teaching and research laboratories, offices and related spaces in accordance with Accreditation Council of Pharmacy Education standards and guidelines. When complete, it will house UH Hilo’s largest graduate program.

“This facility will provide the space needed for students and faculty to learn and discover the wonders of science,” Lt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui said. “I am confident that achievements made in this building will benefit the Big Island community, the State of Hawaiʻi and the world.”

Prior to 2007, Hawaiʻi was one of only a few states in the nation that did not provide pharmacy education. The construction of the College of Pharmacy building will allow local students to remain in Hawaiʻi and eventually help the state’s need for more professionals in this field.

Founding Dean John M. Pezzuto said that the timing of the release of the funds couldn’t have come at a better time. The college has been required to undergo site visits from the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education accreditation teams since before admitting students, and passed every one of the 30 strict standards until last year when they faced possible probation for not having suitable facilities.

“We never stopped believing in our future,” said Pezzuto. “I am personally grateful to the legislature and to the governor for recognizing the need for upgrading the quality of the environment students need to succeed, and for demonstrating to the community that Hawaiʻi Island contributes to the well-being of the entire state. With a permanent building, the college is well positioned to continue the quest of achieving a high national ranking.”

From news releases from the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo and the Office of the Governor

October 15, 2014—Editor’s note: Additional information from the UH Hilo news release was added to the published story.