- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 8, 2007

ANNAPOLIS — The nation’s first pharmacy program at a women’s college won approval yesterday by Maryland regulators, setting up the state’s second pharmacy degree.

The College of Notre Dame of Maryland won approval for a pharmacy program 12-0 by the state Higher Education Commission. If approved by national pharmacy accreditors, Notre Dame would have the nation’s first pharmacy program at a historically women’s school, though men would be eligible to attend, too.

Currently, Maryland’s only pharmacy degree is offered at the University of Maryland at College Park. Johns Hopkins University does not offer pharmacy degrees. In contrast, neighboring Virginia has four pharmacy programs.

Supporters said there is a yawning gap in the number of pharmacists needed in coming years and the capacity of the nation’s 92 pharmacy schools.

Suzanne Shipley, vice president of academic affairs at the College of Notre Dame, said that last year, 450 Marylanders applied to pharmacy schools and only 133 were accepted, “leaving over 300 future pharmacists without a place to study.”

Stanton Ades, a former president of the Maryland State Board of Pharmacy, told commissioners there is an “acute and ongoing shortage of pharmacists.”

“The need for pharmacists is just exploding,” said Mr. Ades, who graduated from the University of Maryland at College Park. “The marketplace needs are now overcoming the ability of schools of pharmacy to produce pharmacists.”

Jennifer Athay, associate director of student development at the District-based American Pharmacists Association, said that women are more frequently entering pharmacy. In 1990, the field was only about a third female. By 2004, Miss Athay said, 46 percent of pharmacists were women, and by 2005, a majority of pharmacy students were female, she said.

A program at a women’s school “just makes sense,” said Miss Athay, who wasn’t at the hearing.

If approved by a national pharmacy accrediting board, Notre Dame’s school could begin enrolling students by fall of 2008. Tuition would be $28,000, with an anticipated class size of 65. Enrollment would be capped at 250.

Notre Dame, which already offers a prepharmacy track for undergraduates, plans the pharmacy program to put a concentration on women’s health and said eventual enrollment would likely be 65 percent women.

“There’s compelling evidence for the need” for a pharmacy program at Notre Dame, said Commissioner Joann Boughman.

Founded in 1873 by the School Sisters of Notre Dame, the university in northeast Baltimore was the first Catholic college for women to award the four-year bachelor’s degree, according to its Web site. Its mission has since expanded to include men.

• Terrapin ban

The diamondback terrapin may get protection from lawmakers, even though state regulators have already pledged to put Maryland’s favorite turtle off-limits to catching.

The Maryland Senate is expected to vote in coming days on a bill to eliminate any harvest of the terrapin, and the House could follow suit.

Supporters of a ban say the terrapin’s numbers are in sharp decline, though specifics aren’t available, and the state should shut down the terrapin season.

The state Department of Natural Resources opposed a ban, saying the regulatory agency, not lawmakers, should make the decision. DNR pledged to put a moratorium on hunting terrapins, which live in brackish waters of the Chesapeake Bay.

Sen. Roy Dyson, Southern Maryland Democrat, said yesterday that lawmakers want to stop all terrapin catching despite the DNR’s promise.

Mr. Dyson said terrapins are too precious to leave out of state law. The turtles are hallmark critters of the Chesapeake region and are the mascot of the University of Maryland at College Park. Terrapins are prized ingredients in Asian soups, though they’re seldom eaten by modern Americans.

Larry Simns, president of the Maryland Watermen’s Association, opposes the ban. He said the terrapin’s misfortune is caused by development, not harvesting. Only about 40 people in the state catch terrapins commercially, said Mr. Simns, adding that a ban won’t stop the turtles’ decline.

“It’s a feel-good thing for the legislature, but they’re not really doing anything” because habitat loss is the main problem, Mr. Simns said.

The state’s most-visible environmental group, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, did not take a position on the bill for that reason. Maryland Director Kim Coble said habitat for terrapins is “being lost all the time.”

“We can’t forget that if the terrapins don’t have a place to nest, we’re not going to have terrapins,” Miss Coble said.

Senators were expected to consider an amendment today to allow terrapin hatcheries to continue, just not a harvest of wild terrapins. A vote in the House has not been scheduled.

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