Kansas University leaders are ambitious that a new pharmacy school that will allow the program to enroll more students each year will be done by fall 2010.
They also told Rep. Lynn Jenkins on Thursday as she viewed the construction site that the expanded program could ease the shortage of pharmacists in the state.
“The School of Pharmacy is going to be great not only for the school, but the engine that it will bring for the economy here in the Heartland,” said Jenkins, R-Topeka.
J.E. Dunn Construction Co. broke ground in May on the $45.5 million, 110,000 square-foot facility on KU’s West Campus near the Simons Biosciences Research Laboratories and the Multidisciplinary Research Building. The project is financed with both state bonds and private donations.
Ken Audus, KU’s pharmacy dean, said university leaders wanted Jenkins to be aware of the need for more pharmacists in the state. Kansas currently has six counties without a pharmacy and 30 with only one.
The expansion at the Lawrence campus will give KU capacity to enroll a maximum of 150 new students in Lawrence, up from 105 students. Also, a maximum of 40 students per year will be accepted at a new program at the Wichita campus of the KU School of Medicine.
“(The expansion) will start filling slots that are open and address some of the shortages that we have around the state,” Audus said.
Jenkins, whose district includes western Lawrence, said KU’s expansion on West Campus was good news for the state, especially with construction slated to begin soon near the new pharmacy school on the Lawrence-Douglas County Bioscience Authority’s wet-lab business incubator to allow researchers to put their work into startup companies.
The first-term House member said she has heard plenty of opposition from her 2nd District constituents to a public health insurance option to compete with private companies.
“I think it’s a culmination of a lot of issues that have just come through Congress in a hurry, and this kind of the last straw,” Jenkins said. “They feel like a government takeover isn’t necessarily the right direction, and they are prepared to stand in its way.”