UI College of Pharmacy officials hope for replacement facility


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While the University of Iowa boasts an impressive pharmacy program, it can’t brag about its facility.

“We’re No. 1 in energy consumption,” said Don Letendre, the dean of the UI College of Pharmacy. “And that’s not an enviable place to be.”

Per square foot, the Pharmacy Building consumes more energy than any building on campus. And this is one reason pharmacy-school officials want to see a replacement facility in the coming years.

“We have a top-10 worldwide pharmacy program and a bottom-10 facility,” Letendre said.

In a UI energy report, the Pharmacy Building used roughly 5 million kilowatt hours of electrical energy in fiscal 2009, 300,000 more kilowatt hours than all of the buildings on the Pentacrest combined.

In 2008, the Pharmacy Building accounted for 11,905 metric tons of carbon dioxide, while the Pappajohn Business Building accounted 3,900 metrics tons of carbon dioxide; it is 47,000 square feet larger than the Pharmacy Building.

While the building lacks energy efficiency, UI pharmacy Professor Bernard Sorofman said the facility doesn’t work because of the era in which it was built.

“It’s pretty obvious that it was designed differently than the way buildings are designed today,” Sorofman said.

The university constructed the facility in the early 1960s and added a wing roughly 20 years ago, but this addition did little to help the program.

“That was a Band-Aid,” Letendre said.  “It was intended for economic development but provided no relief — it provided office space.”

In addition to the flood-recovery projects, the UI would undertake building a new, efficient pharmacy building following the completion of the new residence hall.

Following that, a portion of Quadrangle would be expendable, allowing the UI to tear it down and build the new pharmacy facility across from the current building.

With the UI planning to finish the new residence hall in 2015, the construction would take approximately two to two-and-a-half years to finish because of the complexity of the building.

“Our research base is grossly inadequate,” Letendre said.

The current building has two classrooms for all students. The building had one classroom, but it was split in two.

Because of the structure, the classrooms differ greatly in temperature, with one only having access to air conditioning and the other solely to heat — another energy obstacle.

But the Pharmacy Building faces obstacles other than its energy use. 

While the practice lab is the nicest portion of the building, it is only one-third the size it needs to be.
Despite the relatively new practice lab, Letendre’s colleague agrees with the need for a new facility.

“To stay cutting-edge, we need to have facilities to perform at cutting-edge levels,” Sorofman said.

The Pharmacy Building is the educational home to 432 professional-degree students with an additional 96 Ph.D. students but isn’t fit to accommodate that number, Letendre said.

Originally, the UI built the building to educate a class size much smaller, but because of the demand for the program, the program expanded beyond its capacity, he said.

While no official plans have been set for the new building, Letendre hopes for legislative support along with support from the UI.

“This is the first step of an evolution to construct a new College of Pharmacy,” he said.

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