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Stony Brook University suspends operation of pharmacy school

The Stony Brook announcement came a day after

The Stony Brook announcement came a day after the president, Dr. Samuel L. Stanley Jr., gave the 2018 State of the University address. Credit: Barry Sloan

Stony Brook University has stopped taking applications for its School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences and suspended the school’s operation, officials said Thursday.

The announcement went out in an email to faculty and staff Thursday from Kenneth Kaushansky, the university’s senior vice president of health studies and School of Medicine dean.

“The University will make every effort to identify alternative positions throughout the institution in which affected Faculty and Staff might be retained,” Kaushansky said in the email. “I wish to thank all involved for the incredible hard work and effort that went into establishing this academic venture. Their efforts are truly appreciated.”

University spokeswoman Lauren Sheprow confirmed the announcement Thursday evening.

“We continue to review the program options for the future,” Sheprow said in an email. There have been no admissions to the program to date, so no current students are affected, she said.

The number of faculty and staff members who could be affected by the decision was not immediately available Thursday.

Long Island’s largest public research university in 2015 announced plans to open the school, with the goal of enrolling its founding class in fall 2016. Its mission was to train students with diverse backgrounds in basic science and the practice of pharmacy, the university said at the time. The more than 26,000-student institution has offered an undergraduate degree in pharmacological studies since 1994, but students cannot practice as a pharmacist holding that degree alone.

This February, the university on its website announced plans to enroll its first pharmacy-doctorate class in August and was accepting applications.

The university had applied to the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education for pre-candidate status, according to the announcement. Matriculation cannot occur until the program is approved by the council and the state Education Department, according to the university.

But the program requested that the ACPE board of directors not consider a May evaluation team report and instead authorize a second “comprehensive on-site evaluation” during the 2018-19 school year to provide the basis for the pre-candidate status of the doctorate program, according to a June report posted on the ACPE website. The board agreed and planned to evaluate the program this school year, the report said.

Thursday’s announcement to suspend operations and not take applications comes a day after university president, Dr. Samuel L. Stanley Jr., gave his 2018 State of the University address.

Among the topics he touched on, Stanley provided an overview of budget issues the university continues to face, including a deficit, and said it plans to continue a hiring freeze put in place last March.

He did not say how much the deficit is, and the university could not provide the budget information Thursday.

Asked if budget reasons played a role in suspending the pharmacy school operations, Sheprow said the decision was “due to a range of circumstances.”

In March, Stanley said the university faced an $18 million shortfall in its total base funding due to contractual salary increases negotiated at the state level.

The university’s budget is more than $3 billion, though the lion’s share, about $2.28 billion, goes to supporting Stony Brook Medicine, he said in his address Wednesday.

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