The admittance of a founding class of 64 members was admitted in August 1996 ended
a three-decade effort to plan, secure legislative authorization, and find funding
to establish the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center School of Pharmacy.
In 1971, Texas Legislature established the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center
as a separate University from Texas Tech University. At that time, the only program
was Medicine, but plans were laid for a more diverse health professions offering.
The initial plans included programs in Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Professions,
Programmatic funding has always been difficult to secure, but the Legislature appropriated
funds to construct a 1 million sq. ft. health sciences building in Lubbock. The building
was designed with three "pods," and the first pod was to house the School of Medicine
while the second was constructed for the Schools of Health Professions and Nursing;
and the third pod was to house the School of Pharmacy. A shortfall in funding caused
the University to leave pod 3 unfinished, anticipating the approval of a pharmacy
program to be forth coming.
Officially, the University was authorized to offer the B.S. in Pharmacy - the entry-level
professional degree for licensure in Texas.
After years of continued discussion of the growing need for a West Texas pharmacy
school, the Texas Legislature authorized funds in 1991 to conduct a study of the need
for and feasibility of starting a pharmacy school on the Lubbock campus. The consultants
documented a great need for a pharmacy program and proposed a plan to establish the
program in Lubbock. By that time, other HSC programs had occupied much of the third
pod that was initially constructed for the pharmacy school, so the plan included additional
facilities to house the new program.
About this time, community leaders in Amarillo began thinking creatively about how
to expand the community's rather small TTUHSC campus located in the Harrington Regional
Medical Center. Essentially, Amarillo received a small number of third- and fourth-year
medical students from Lubbock for their clerkship training, and the local hospitals
offered limited residency programs in Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, Pediatrics,
Plans were being made to offer satellite Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy
programs, utilizing distance education technology between Odessa, Lubbock and Amarillo
and funded in large measure by the communities' hospitals. Amarillo community leaders,
knowing of the University's and region's need for a pharmacy program and limited state
resources to provide construction of adequate facilities, began thinking how they
could fund a pharmacy building in Amarillo to influence the University and Legislature
to make Amarillo the base of operations.
Primary among these leaders were Jerry Hodge, B.S. Pharmacy, R.Ph., a local pharmacist/entrepreneur
who had previously served as mayor; Selden Hale, J.D., a local attorney who was in
a family of pharmacists, including his brother Tom Hale, Ph.D., a pharmacist/pharmacologist
and faculty member of the School of Medicine in Amarillo. Together, these leaders
begin considering alternative strategies to realize their goal.
Jerry and Selden were, at that time, commissioners for the Texas Department of Criminal
Justice (TDCJ). The TDCJ was planning the location of a Prison Psychiatric Hospital
in West Texas with several West Texas communities vying to secure the new facility
for their communities. John T. Montford, J.D., the Texas State Senator for Lubbock
and surrounding counties chaired the Senate Appropriations Committee, a position that
carried significant influence to move new programs through the Legislative process.
Selden's wife had professional ties to Lieutenant Governor Bob Bullock, the most powerful
politician in the State and a graduate of Texas Tech University. The Speaker of the
House of Representatives was Pete Laney from Plainview. With all these state leaders
in-place, the opportunity to secure the pharmacy school for West Texas, planned since
the early 1970's, was in position to become a possibility.
The Amarillo community leaders took advantage of the difficulty the University and
region were having securing the funding for a pharmacy building. Acting in their role
as TDCJ officials, they offered to support to Senator Montford's plan to locate the
TDCJ Psychiatric Hospital for West Texas in Lubbock in return for the Senator supporting
the funding of a new pharmacy school for TTUHSC headquartered in Amarillo. The deal
was struck on a private plane carrying the three men from Amarillo to Lubbock.The
opportunity for a new pharmacy school for TTUHSC based in Amarillo rather than Lubbock
had a real chance of become a reality.
During the 1993 Texas Legislative session, the appropriations committee approved the
concept of the TDCJ Psychiatric Hospital for Lubbock and the Pharmacy School for TTUHSC
in Amarillo, but an appropriations' rider was placed in the bill: No state dollars
could be spent to construct the Pharmacy Building; the state would only pay start-up
costs to secure accreditation and hire the faculty if the Amarillo community would
build the building and donate it to TTUHSC.
Many people thought this would kill the chances for the School to be based in Amarillo.
But to the Amarillo community leaders, this was just one more challenge to overcome
to realize their goal.
By this time, the Amarillo community partners grew to include Senator Teel Bivins,
Amarillo Councilman John McKissack, and Amarillo Mayor Kel Seliger. As the leaders
begin looking for funding sources, four additional community leaders joined the effort:
Bill Gilliland, Don Powell, Wayne Sturdivant, and Garet von Netzer. The community
leaders identified four potential funding sources for the goal of $13M. The leadership
was taken by the Amarillo Economic Development Corporation that quickly understood
that this project would generate a long-term source of funding for economic development
for the community: new faculty jobs; new students moving to Amarillo -- many with
their families -- and job creation for local staff members. The new jobs would increase
the demand for housing, purchases in the community, and opportunities for spousal
The second major entity was the Amarillo Hospital District's Northwest Texas Health
Care System. Northwest was, at the time, a city of Amarillo owned health system and
having pharmacy and future development of health professions programs it would bring
was identified as a foundational program to help the community meet its growing health
The third source of development funding was the Harrington Medical Center, Inc. which
provided land within the Medical Center to construct the new campus. The land on Coulter
Street was selected for the new Pharmacy Building and was donated to its development.
The fourth important funding source was the community in the Panhandle, including
foundations, corporations and private gifts. The success in raising $3M from the community
is noted within the pharmacy building by viewing the donor plaques on the many rooms,
testament to the significant community support given the development of the new School.
With the pledge of construction and a utility endowment secured, the 1993 Texas Legislature
appropriated sufficient funds to hire a dean, file an application for accreditation with the American Council for Pharmaceutical
Education (the name of the accrediting body
at that time), and with the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) that
gave TTUHSC the authority to offer the Pharm.D. degree. The program was authorized
for Amarillo as part of TTUHSC.
The University hired a consultant to assist in recruiting the Founding Dean and begin
planning the program and the new building. Jack Cole, R.Ph., Ph.D., emeritus dean
of the College of Pharmacy and Provost of the University of Arizona was retained.
Arthur A. Nelson, Jr., R.Ph., Ph.D., Dean of the College of Pharmacy, Idaho State
University was selected by TTUHSC from among three finalists who were deans at other
accredited pharmacy schools. Dean Nelson accepted the appointment in May of 1994,
and began working with W.D. Architects of Amarillo to design the building. He began
his administration on August 15, 1994, and developed the ACPE and THECB applications
to secure approval to begin the program.
Dean Nelson was also responsible for developing the initial curriculum, developing
staffing plans, designing the building, and fund raising with a target date of accepting
the founding class in August 1996. The School's first full-time employee was hired,
Ms. Sharon Mears, and the first faculty member, Dr. David Allen of the National Institutes
of Health was the first faculty member hired. Mr. Butch Habeger, R.Ph., MBA was hired
after Dr. Allen, but, living in Amarillo, was the first faculty member to actually
begin working at the School.
During 1995, Dean Nelson was also appointed as Director of Pharmacy Services at Northwest
Texas Health System to facilitate the development of an integrated pharmacy practice/pharmacy
educational program and bring changes in the Systems pharmacies to promote greater
involvement of the pharmacists in direct patient care responsibilities. This dual
position lasted only one year when the City sold the Health System to a private hospital
management corporation that had a system-wide contract for pharmacy services.