SOUTH KINGSTOWN – Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee toured the University of Rhode Island’s new pharmacy building today with R.I. Sen. V. Susan Sosnowski, D-New Shoreham, and Speaker of the House Gordon D. Fox, D-Providence.
The five-story, 142,000-square-foot building is in the final stages of its $75 million construction and, when opened, will be the largest academic building on the URI campus.
“URI is one of four original pharmacy schools in New England, so we’re building on a strong foundation,” Chafee said. “Staying at the forefront of the pharmaceutical industry is putting tax dollars to good use.”
In 2006, Rhode Island voters approved $65 million in general obligation bonds to finance the building’s construction. Private donations and university funds made up the remaining $10 million.
“It’s hugely important to the economy,” Fox said. “With all of the advances in biomedical and drug technology, this is where it’s going. URI’s reputation in pharmacy is second to none in the country and that allows us to attract students who will help create new ways to treat people.”
Currently, the 700 students in URI’s six-year doctor of pharmacy program are housed in Fogarty Hall, which was opened in 1964 and was designed to accommodate only 235 students.
The new facility includes tissue culture rooms, an intravenous preparation lab, research and professional simulations laboratories and other dedicated technology zones. The teaching spaces include a 165-seat auditorium, two 30-seat classrooms and a 60-seat classroom.
The new building will allow URI to enroll 30 percent more students into the pharmacy program over the next several years, according to a statement. Typically, the pharmacy program only accepts 75 students a year out of more than 1,000 applicants.
“The health care sector is a leading jobs generator nationwide and here in Rhode Island,” said URI president David M. Dooley.
“This facility will allow us to prepare even more of the best pharmacists and biomedical scientists of the future, and will also bolster our ability to work with the pharmaceutical industry, hospitals, medical schools and other colleges. From these research-intensive activities, I see URI being a catalyst for biomedical and pharmaceutical startup businesses in Rhode Island and beyond,” said Dooley.
The ribbon cutting ceremony for the new facility will be Sept. 4.