AUSTIN, Texas—The College of Pharmacy at The University of Texas at Austin has received $2 million from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to establish a Center of Excellence for enhancing academic support and enrichment programs for its Hispanic students.
The new center also will enable the college to design faculty development programs for current and future Hispanic junior faculty members. The three-year grant runs through August 2006.
“There is a desperate need to train more qualified Hispanic pharmacists in Texas,” said Cliff Littlefield, associate dean of pharmacy who will serve as director of the center. The pharmacy workforce in Texas is 8.6 percent Hispanic as compared to the overall Texas Hispanic population of 32 percent, he said.
“It is imperative that we continue to work towards recruiting and retaining Hispanic students into pharmacy to address the pharmacist shortages in Texas and to diversify the pharmacy workforce in the state,” Littlefield said.
The Health Resources and Services Administration with the Department of Health and Human Services recently announced grants to support Centers of Excellence programs at 11 universities to improve the performance of health professions training programs that serve minority and ethnic groups who are underrepresented in the health professions.
The College of Pharmacy, which has the second highest number of Hispanic students (94) and faculty members (11) in the country, is among the first-year grantees.
The college already has many programs that provide a solid foundation on which to build an Hispanic Center of Excellence in Pharmacy, said Littlefield.
The college has joint or cooperative degree programs with three designated Hispanic serving institutions within the university system, including a joint degree programwith the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio.
Through its cooperative programs at UT-Pan American and UT El Paso, the Pharmacy Scholars Program provides early admission to the college for qualified high school graduates from predominately Hispanic regions. The first class of the Pharmacy Scholars Program graduated from the university in May 2003.
“The establishment of the new center shows what can happen when universities work together,” said Littlefield, acknowledging the contributions of Dr. Jeri Sias, clinical assistant professor of the UT El Paso pharmacy program, and Dr. Bill McIntyre, dean of the College of Health Sciences and Human Services at UT-Pan American.
Through the new center, the college will hire a consultant to conduct a cultural proficiency assessment. Plans also include expanding library resources, initiating a Minority Health Lecture Series, hosting faculty cultural workshops, expanding existing classes and service-learning experiences, and developing new clerkship sites in community health centers in south Texas and along the border area.
For more information contact: Nancy Neff, 512-471-6504.