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UH Hilo’s College of Pharmacy receives full accreditation

The college now becomes the first school of pharmacy in the State of Hawai‘i and the Pacific region to become fully accredited by the prestigious Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education.

Graduates of UH Hilo PharmD program are all smiles at 2011 Spring Commencement.

After five years of intensive reviews, the College of Pharmacy at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo has been granted full accreditation by the national agency that regulates pharmacy schools.

At a meeting this week, the Board of Directors of the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education voted to award the college full accreditation for a period of two years. Continuation will be determined at a future ACPE board meeting, following a site visit to assess the ongoing progress of the program.

“Faculty and staff at the College of Pharmacy have worked extremely hard to get to this point,” said UH Hilo Chancellor Donald Straney. “But we all know we can’t stop now. We’re doing everything we can to help improve their chances of becoming one of the top 25 schools of pharmacy in the nation.”

John Pezzuto, dean at UH Hilo’s College of Pharmacy

According to John Pezzuto, who was appointed dean of the college in 2006, receiving full accreditation at this time was a close call.

“We are able to provide a first-rate education for our students, but we will not be able to realize our dream of being a top-ranked college of pharmacy until permanent facilities are completed,” he said. “I believe ACPE took a leap of faith in extending full accreditation as a result of strong commitments for our future development. So our work is not nearly done. They will be continuously checking on our progress.”

The college now becomes the first school of pharmacy in the State of Hawai‘i and the Pacific region to become fully accredited by the prestigious agency.

“I am very proud of the university’s accomplishment, having been personally involved in the planning for this college from the beginning,” said U.S. Senator Daniel K. Inouye (D-HI) in a letter to the ACPE board. “Throughout the years since UH Hilo began its quest, I have been consistently and enthusiastically joined in supporting the college by my colleagues in the Hawai‘i congressional delegation.”

Schools of pharmacy become eligible to be considered for full accreditation after they meet certain standards set aside by ACPE and have graduated their first group of students. The first group of 84 doctors of pharmacy (Pharm.D.) graduated from UH Hilo last month.

“We began the process of accreditation before any students were aware we were here,” Dean Pezzuto said. “That was necessary in order to meet ACPE’s rigorous review process, which has been a constant reminder that what we do and how we do it is worthwhile. Even more importantly, it’s gratifying to know we did not let the students down. All graduates of the college are eligible for professional licensure after passing a national board exam.”

The board granted the college pre-candidate status in June 2007, and each year the college was required to satisfy a review board during a site visit to Hilo that it met 30 standards of excellence. Key points of evaluation include areas such as curriculum and facilities.

ACPE is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as the national agency for the accreditation of professional degree programs in pharmacy.