Magazine article Drug Topics

Many Pharmacy Schools Facing Budgetary Woes

Magazine article Drug Topics

Many Pharmacy Schools Facing Budgetary Woes

Article excerpt


Wall Street's meltdown and rapidly dwindling state government coffers are forcing many pharmacy schools to face the prospect of tightening their fiscal belts even more.

Financial hard times was Topic A at the recent annual meeting of the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy, said executive v.p. Lucinda Maine. "It's an increasingly important priority," she said. "I think their issues may be different, but both private and public schools of pharmacy are feeling it. We have to do the best we can under some pretty awful circumstances."

Many state universities and colleges are being hit hard by past fiscal follies from the halcyon days when legislatures handed out tax cuts like candy. Now the good times have stopped rolling. States have used up 66% of their cash on hand and from rainy-day funds, according to a survey by the National Conference of State Legislatures. By June 30, states had a collective budget gap of $36 billion. And it gets worse this fiscal year, when deficits are expected to balloon to $58 billion.

Pharmacy schools funded out of the public coffers are suffering whiplash from the sudden deceleration when states slammed on the budgetary brakes. University of Kansas School of Pharmacy dean Jack Fincham, Ph.D., reports most of his colleagues at state institutions are singing the budget blues.

"Representatives from every state I've talked to say they're in pretty dire straits," Fincham said. "States that had massive tax cuts several years ago are now facing the consequences, and I don't think we've reached the bottom yet. We're operating in a lean fashion, and we've cut operating expenses to the bone. Due to the diligence and loyalty of our faculty, we're meeting our missions related to both teaching and research, but it's not easy."

The University of Tennessee College of Pharmacy is accustomed to getting the cold shoulder from the state. It's been six years since the college scored a funding increase, said dean Dick Gourley. It helps that his college has been able to keep 100% of the new tuition brought in by the boost in class size from 75 to 100 in 1995 and to 125 this semester. Coupled with tuition hikes, the new tuition will raise about $2. …

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