Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, "Do not go where the path may lead, go
instead where there is no path and leave a trail." Harrison School of
Pharmacy Dean Lee Evans must have been thinking along those same lines,
some years ago, as he pondered the national shortage of pharmacists.
What path should HSOP follow to address this deficit?
Where the Path Led
One part of Evans' Emersonian path led to expansion of the facilities at
HSOP. That was accomplished with the completion of the Education and
Clinic Wing in 2006. Setting up a satellite school of pharmacy in Mobile
eventually became a natural extension of that original path. After
nearly two years of discussions between Auburn University, HSOP and the
University of South Alabama, an agreement was reached. From that point,
it was all systems go. In an unprecedented time frame of nine months,
the planning, construction and renovations were completed on the Mobile
campus just in time for classes.
The Grand Opening
September 14, the Grand Opening ceremony for HSOP's Mobile campus
symbolized the end of what had now become a well-trodden path. (See
media scrapbook.) Though
other challenges and goals may present themselves, we can agree that HSOP, in true Emerson style, is now leaving a trail for others to
follow, especially in Alabama. Currently, Alabama has one of the highest
demands for pharmaceutical workers in the country. At the time of the
Grand Opening, Evans said approximately 32 positions were available in
the Mobile area alone. Fall semester on the Mobile campus saw the
admission of the first class of 24 student pharmacists.
As several media representatives hugged the wall at the back of the room
with their TV cameras, over one hundred invited guests settled into
their seats among faculty, staff and student pharmacists. Speakers for
the occasion, in addition to Dean Evans, were Dr. John Heilman, Provost
and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Auburn University; Dr. Gordon
Moulton, President, USA; Dr. Pat Covey, Senior Vice President for
Academic Affairs, USA; and Matt Jenkins, President of HSOP Student
Council. Each conveyed a similar up-beat message: The ultimate outcome
of this collaboration between Auburn and USA will be improved health
care for the people of the state and region -- a win-win situation.
The ceremony itself was unusual in that about half of the audience,
those on the Auburn campus, watched by live teleconferenced video
transmission. The guests attending in Mobile could see the Auburn
audience on a large screen and vice versa. It is this cutting edge
technology that was a major component in making the concept of a
satellite school possible. Both HSOP and USA's IT groups, in
collaboration with Wire One Communications, designed and implemented the
systems that allow for the seamless two-way delivery of instruction
between the two schools.
Following the ceremony, there was the traditional ribbon cutting
accomplished by Dean Evans, Dr. Karen Marlowe, Assistant Dean for the
Mobile program, Dr. Heilman, Dr. Moulton, Dr. Covey and Mr. Jenkins. A
reception was held in the skills lab accompanied by a brief
demonstration of the technology used to deliver educational content
between Auburn and Mobile. Everyone was invited to tour the facilities
on their own.
How Do Teleconferencing Classes Work?
Student pharmacists in Mobile will become part of the Auburn classroom
via videoconferencing. This technology will allow them to interact with
their counterparts at Auburn by seeing and hearing everything that goes
on in the classroom, including slide shows on two large screens. This
synchronous interaction can be accomplished from both Auburn and Mobile,
regardless of the origin.
Virtual Mirror Images
Interior facilities are virtually identical to those at AU in terms of
team rooms, furnishings, lecture halls, and technology. The curriculum
received by student pharmacists on both campuses will be identical.
Students will be Auburn University students. They will compete for
admission with all other applicants, participate in the same student
organizations, be eligible for the same scholarships, grants and loans,
and will pay Auburn tuition. Mobile graduates will receive a diploma
from Auburn which will denote that their work was completed on the
Other Facts about the Mobile Campus
The Mobile campus offices and classrooms are located in the Health
Services Building located on the USA campus. The Mobile satellite will
allow HSOP to admit an additional 24 students per year. New enrollees
will be served by five new full-time faculty members located in Mobile,
including Doctors of Pharmacy Brock Woodis, 05, Rakhi Karwa, Ray
Lorenz, and Angela Vinti. Dr. Alison Chung, who has been HSOP off-site
faculty in Mobile since 2002, will also serve as faculty. Dr. Karen
Marlowe is the Assistant Dean and Associate Department
Head. Rounding out this group of pioneers is Marian Williams, Student
Services Coordinator, Melissa Coumanis, Coordinator of Experiential
Learning, and Chuck Bolivar who is in charge of IT for Mobile.
Acknowledging the Trail & Throwing Out Bread Crumbs
Perhaps one of the most satisfied people at the end of this day was Dean
Lee Evans. Experiencing the reality of where his path has led HSOP on
this historic day, he was inspired, positive and looking forward. He
said, We are going to move quickly to help reduce the shortage of
well-trained pharmacists, not just in the Mobile area, but all along the
Gulf Coast, from the Florida Panhandle to the Biloxi area and beyond.
Spoken like a true trailblazer!
NBC 15 News - length 17sec
FOX 10 News - length 33sec