Fears that the Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy’s accreditation might be lost, jeopardizing the future of the school, as well as its graduates’ ability to find work, were largely laid to rest this week.
In a release issued Monday, the University of Hawaii at Hilo college reported that the American Council for Pharmacy Education had found the school to be compliant with all 30 of its accreditation standards after the state Legislature appropriated $33 million for a new building for the program.
For years, Dean John Pezzuto warned that the longer legislators waited to fund a building, the more danger the fledgling program would be in regards to losing its accreditation — a common form of endorsement reserved for colleges and universities that meet strict standards.
Pezzuto pulled no punches in January when he said that should legislators fail to fund the building this year, “that would be equivalent to pushing us off the cliff, and we would be in a freefall.”
In June 2013, the college had been found by the accrediting agency to be in noncompliance with its specific standard regarding having a permanent home for a pharmacy program. The school was given another chance to find funding this year, under the understanding that if it failed, the pharmacy program’s accreditation would be put on probation.
“If we don’t get the funding, I don’t know what I will tell them,” Pezzuto said in February regarding the accreditors. “Probation would be the beginning of the end.”
The effects of having the future of its accreditation in jeopardy were felt strongly this year, Pezzuto said, when the program received only 500 applications from prospective students, compared with 800 the year before. Now that the building will be funded, the hope is that the accreditation process will continue normally, despite the fact that it is not yet officially complete.
The college now must complete a self-study due by September, to be followed by an onsite visit in October 2014.
The results of the site visit and continuation of accreditation will be reviewed at the next ACPE Board meeting, to be held in January 2015.
“If we had followed the path we were on just a year ago, I could be saying that we have been placed on probation, which would’ve been disastrous for the future of the College,” Pezzuto was quoted as saying in Monday’s press release. “It is heartening that our accreditation is once again secure, but we all must remain diligent and prepare for the next steps.”
Email Colin M. Stewart at cstewart@hawaiitribune- herald.com.