Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Contact: Dave Wellman, Director of Communications (304) 696-7153

Marshall University celebrates pharmacy school progress

Renovations under way to house new program beginning next fall

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Major progress in the extensive renovations to the Robert W. Coon Medical Education Building (MEB) at the Huntington VA Medical Center is a clear indication the opening of Marshall University’s School of Pharmacy is moving closer to reality.

The $9 million overhaul of the facility is on schedule for completion in time to welcome the inaugural class of the university’s new pharmacy school in fall 2012, guests attending a ceremony to celebrate the progress learned today.

“Studies show that more pharmacists are needed in West Virginia, a trend that is expected to continue,” said Marshall President Stephen J. Kopp. “Our School of Pharmacy will help meet that need and in doing so, help improve the quality of life in our community, region and state. The renovation of the Medical Education Building is a huge step toward the school welcoming its first class of students next fall.”

Dr. Kevin W. Yingling, the school’s founding dean, said, “We are excited about the renovations to the building, which will result in a cutting-edge, technology-enabled learning environment and research facility for the students of the Marshall University School of Pharmacy. Equally exciting is the prospect of deepening the long relationship between Marshall University and the VA Medical Center with its broad range of inpatient and ambulatory patient care services.

“We look forward to working closely with the VA and many other closely affiliated regional health care institutions to produce graduates who will make positive contributions to patient care throughout our state, region and nation.”

Edward H. Seiler, director of the VA Medical Center, said, “The Marshall University School of Pharmacy is the latest advancement in a longstanding academic affiliation between the Huntington VA Medical Center and Marshall University. We are pleased that the School of Pharmacy will be located on our campus and look forward to the contributions its graduates will make to the healthcare industry in our region.”

Those attending today’s event, which was held on the lawn of the MEB, got a close-up view of a building that has been gutted on the lower two levels. Renovation to the facility, which is located adjacent to the Huntington VA Medical Center on Spring Valley Drive, is about 25 percent complete, according to Ron May, manager of project operations at Marshall.

“All the demolition is finished,” May said. “We’ve been doing a lot of mechanical, electrical and plumbing work, and the ground floor is almost completely partitioned up. We’re making good progress. The building will be ready in time for classes to start next fall.”

To commemorate today’s event, guests signed a section of drywall that will actually be used in the construction of the facility, serving as a sort of “time capsule” for future generations.

The renovation will result in a state-of-the-art, 76,000-square-foot learning, research and pharmacy practice facility. The MEB was constructed in the late 1970s at a cost of $9.3 million and was fully funded by the former U.S. Veterans Administration (now the Department of Veterans Affairs). The building was vacated when the university’s Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine faculty and classrooms were relocated to the Robert C. Byrd Biotechnology Science Center on the Huntington campus.

The Marshall University Board of Governors voted unanimously in December 2009 to approve the awarding of the Doctorate in Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) degree. It is estimated that nearly 40 new high-paying faculty and staff positions will be created at the school within the first four years, and the school is expected to generate more than $150 million in regional economic impact. Marshall’s “pedigree” in bioscience research will present new opportunities for funding and powerful private-sector partnerships with pharmaceutical and therapeutics companies, which will add to this economic development impact.

The school also will play a vital role in filling the significant shortage of pharmacists in the state. According to the Pharmacy Manpower Project, Inc., (  in July 2011, West Virginia ranked third in the nation in states with the highest level of unmet demand for pharmacists. The study found that overall, 39 percent of the U.S. population resides in states in which filling open pharmacist positions was at least moderately difficult.

This situation will be exacerbated as the nation’s – and West Virginia’s – population ages. More pharmacists will be needed as the role of pharmacists evolves and expands into physician offices, outpatient care centers, nursing homes and rural health clinics.

The renovation is not the only area where progress is being made. Yingling announced the hiring this summer of the school’s executive leadership team, including the following four people:

Also, Terri Moran was hired as the director of student affairs and assessment. Moran, who  has worked at Marshall for 16 years, previously served as assistant registrar. In addition, Karen Barker was hired as executive assistant to the dean. Barker had been administrative assistant for the university’s Center for Teaching and Learning since 2005.

The School of Pharmacy has applied for accreditation status through the Accreditation Council of Pharmacy Education (ACPE), the accrediting body for pharmacy education, and administrators are working to develop the curriculum, admissions criteria, prerequisite requirements, financial aid guidelines and student policies. Officials are expecting a first class of up to 80 students.

For more information about the Marshall University School of Pharmacy, visit or call 304-696-7302.


Photos: (Above) Marshall President Stephen J. Kopp signs a section of drywall that will be used in the renovation of the School of Pharmacy. Guests attending today’s celebration were asked to sign the drywall. (Middle) Del. Don Perdue speaks to the crowd at today’s renovation celebration, which took place outside the Medical Education Building, home of Marshall’s new School of Pharmacy. (Below)  Renovation of the Medical Education Building, home of Marshall’s new School of Pharmacy, is about 25 percent complete. Photos by Rick Haye/Marshall University. 

For further information, contact:  Office of University Communications
Marshall University | 213 Old Main | Huntington, WV 25755-1090
Fax: (304) 696-3197