HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - William Carey University has received one of its largest donations to help bring a pharmacy school to South Mississippi. The school announced Tuesday that it has received a generous gift from a prominent local foundation to help start-up a School of Pharmacy on the Tradition Campus.
William Carey University has already earned quite a reputation for its nursing program. University leaders are looking forward to one day, building a school on the Tradition campus for pharmacy students.
"This program seeks to address some of those shortages and help our state move forward in the areas of health care," said Monica Marlowe, Chief Advancement Officer for the Tradition Campus.
"The closest pharmacy school to the Gulf Coast would be in New Orleans. But from there, all the way to the Florida panhandle, there is not a pharmacy program that students can take advantage of," she added.
To help cover the start-up costs for a pharmacy school, the Leo Seal Family Foundation has pledged $125,000.
"Anytime that we can grant money that stays in South Mississippi, where we're all from, and it helps the community of South Mississippi, that's somewhat of a priority to us," said Leo Seal Foundation Board Member Clay Wagner.
The grant helps the university move closer to its initial fundraising goal of $4 million to hire a dean and faculty and begin the accreditation process. Foundation members say the gift is a way to carry on a family legacy of supporting education and job opportunities.
"All of us sat around the board table and said, 'This is one we've got to give to. This is one that will make a difference.' For my cousins, their father, my uncle, and our grandfather would be very approving of this contribution," said Wagner.
The pharmacy school would serve as an anchor for the Health Care Industry Zone, which surrounds a five-mile radius of the campus on Highway 67. The project is expected to bring more businesses to the area and help the campus grow.
"Anytime you have a research type program in place, it does tend to attract health care and research type institutions. It also increases your undergraduate enrollment," said Marlowe.
Construction of the school is estimated to cost $12 to $18 million. It would accept 60-students a year. Once built, it would be the second pharmacy school in the state and the first professional school on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The only other School of Pharmacy in the state is at the University of Mississippi.
William Carey leaders say they have received other pledges of financial support, and will announce those donations in the near future.