University President Dr. Rod Mabry recently testified at two hearings, one in the state House and one in the Senate, about two UT Tyler pharmacy bills.
Dr. Alisa White, provost and vice president for academic affairs, said this is one of many steps in the process of obtaining a pharmacy program.
State Sens. Kevin Eltife, R-Tyler, and Robert Nichols, R-Jacksonville, filed the Senate bill related to the pharmacy school.
Reps. Bryan Hughes, R-Mineola, Matt Schaefer, R-Tyler, David Simpson, R-Longview, and Travis Clardy, R-Nacogdoches, filed a similar resolution in the House.
Although, the program has not been approved, UT Tyler is taking steps to be prepared when, and if, it is.
This includes posting a job opening for a founding dean of the College of Pharmacy on the university's website.
"We are working diligently to obtain permission from UT System, the Texas Legislature and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to create this new professional college," Mabry wrote in an email. "We do not yet have official permission from any of the three, although our prospects look bright at this time."
Mabry said administrators may not know until June if the program will be approved. He said a dean couldn't be hired until the university obtains necessary authorization from the state.
In addition, a two-year accreditation process must be completed before students can be admitted, and he said the accrediting body only accepts initial applications in January of each year.
UT Tyler must hire a dean to work toward accreditation and a faculty to develop a curriculum, Dr. White said.
Five public universities and one private university in Texas offer similar pharmacy programs.
Dr. White said it was the local workforce rather than current university students who voiced the need for this program.
Fifty-eight percent of pharmacists hired in Texas annually are educated out of state, she said.
There is a high turnover rate, she said, because those pharmacists want to return home after a few years.
"There is a huge need for pharmacists in East Texas," Dr. White said.