Memphis, Tenn. (August 10, 2010) – In late June, the Health Resources and Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services awarded the University of Tennessee College of Pharmacy $3.36 million to fund its Minority Center of Excellence (COE). The UT College of Pharmacy, a unit of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, has made a long-term commitment to this special initiative for the recruitment and retention of underrepresented minority students and faculty. James C. Eoff III, PharmD, executive associate dean in the college, is the principal investigator for the award, which will be paid over the next three years.
"This grant will have a major impact on our students, faculty and the population we serve," Dr. Eoff said. "While we have been very successful over the past two decades in recruiting underrepresented minority students and faculty members, this grant will help us extend our reach even further. We are developing materials and services that will help all students succeed in their studies, refining our faculty development plan by adding innovative teaching techniques and new research skills.
"We also plan to improve our graduates’ understanding of cultural diversity and minority health issues via curricular modifications," he stated. "Plus, we will work with our students to broaden our health services to underrepresented patient populations. The Minority Center of Excellence will work in partnership with the UTHSC Center for Health Education, Economic Empowerment and Research -- CHEER -- in a significant number of ongoing projects that focus on minority health. This collaboration will result in even greater success working with underrepresented students, faculty and staff, while improving educational, informational and curricular activities related to minority health concerns." He anticipates that a more intensive focus on minority health issues through the COE will also lead to an increase in research that includes underrepresented minority patient populations, and an increase in clinical training opportunities for students in the provision of health services to underrepresented minority patients.
The UT College of Pharmacy has received two previous COE awards in 1992-1994 and 2003-2007. These funds supported the college’s transformation into one of the nation’s leading colleges in the recruitment and graduation of underrepresented minority students. The funding also played an important role in the development of underrepresented minority faculty through support of advanced educational opportunities at the College of Pharmacy, such as postdoctoral graduate, fellowship, and residency programs.
The UT College of Pharmacy student body boasts 22.8 percent underrepresented minority students, including 16.1 percent African-Americans. The college has recruited and retained talented underrepresented minority faculty members and is producing strong minority faculty candidates from its own student body.