PROVIDENCE, R.I. — NOVEMBER 1, 2006 — Question 4 — a bond referendum that will provide $65 million for a state-of-the-art teaching and research facility for the College of Pharmacy at the University of Rhode Island and $7.79 million for building renovations and site improvements at Rhode Island College—has earned endorsements from key Rhode Island business and community leaders.
Question 4 is endorsed by:
* Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce
* Northern Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce
* Hospital Association of Rhode Island
* Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation
* Rhode Island Economic Policy Council
* Rhode Island Pharmacists Association
* Rhode Island State Nurses Association
* Rhode Island Community Pharmacy Association
* Rhode Island Federation of Teachers and Health Professionals
* South Kingston Town Council
* American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees – Council 94
* American Association of University Professors – URI Chapter
* Local 3302 – American Federation of Teachers/AFL-CIO.
* Rhode Island College Student Community Government, Inc.
* University of Rhode Island Student Senate
Supporters of Question 4 agree the bond referendum will expand and improve higher education opportunities, support economic and job growth, and improve health and social service programs throughout the state—including those for seniors and residents with disabilities.
“Passage of Question 4 will provide two of the state’s higher educational institutions with the ability to meet the demands not only of today’s students, but also the future workforce needs of Rhode Island employers,” said Laurie White, president of the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce. “It is critical to provide our state’s future workers with the credentials and skill sets that are needed to meet the demands of Rhode Island’s growing industries, which is why the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors has voiced its support of Question 4.”
URI is the state’s flagship institution of higher education, research, and outreach, and a critical part of a knowledge-based economic future for Rhode Island at a time when the state is spawning new biotechnology start-ups engaged in important work like vaccine development, replacement organs, cell-based drug transfer and tissue engineering. It is estimated Rhode Island’s biotech industry currently employs 4,700 workers and generates about $16 million in income-tax and sales tax revenue.
The College of Pharmacy’s nationally recognized Drug Information Services program provides healthcare practitioners with timely, evidence-based drug information to promote the safe, rational use of medications. Last year, the College of Pharmacy presented more than 300 educational programs in senior centers across the state of Rhode Island.
“Hospitals’ ability to provide quality health care to Rhode Islanders is directly dependent on our ability to recruit and retain an appropriately trained workforce,” said Edward J. Quinlan, president of the Hospital Association of Rhode Island. “Approval of question four is an important step in addressing the health care workforce shortages in Rhode Island.”
Recent estimates show that 50,000 new pharmacists are needed nationwide to meet the demands caused by a growing senior population, the complexities of Medicare Part D, the explosion of new prescription drugs, and the need for advanced pharmaceutical and biomedical research.
URI’s existing facilities cannot meet these demands. In recent years, space restrictions have forced the college to turn away a large number of highly qualified students. In 2005 alone, almost 1000 highly qualified applicants applied for 90 places in the Doctor of Pharmacy program. With a new facility, URI can increase its enrollment by nearly 40% and attract more new research contracts, lucrative partnerships with pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, and high paying jobs to Rhode Island.
“Rhode Island, like the rest of the nation, is facing a critical shortage of pharmacists,” says Jack Hutson, Executive Director of the Rhode Island Pharmacists Association. “Approval of Question 4 will provide the modern facilities and expanded capacity needed for URI to strengthen its leadership position in state-of-the-art pharmaceutical education and cutting-edge research.”
Question 4 will also fund renovations to three currently vacant buildings formerly used by DCYF that are now part of the Rhode Island College campus. The renovations and site improvements will support community services, add new classrooms and other academic facilities, and improve campus safety. Included among the renovated buildings will be a new home for the Paul V. Sherlock Center on Disabilities at RIC, which helps integrate Rhode Islanders with disabilities into schools, work, and society.
RIC is the state’s single comprehensive institution of higher education. Approximately 90% of its nearly 9,000 students are Rhode Island residents. The College fulfills Rhode Island’s promise of affordable access to superior higher education for traditional and non-traditional students alike. The College further fulfills its responsibility through public service, continuing education offerings, and cultural opportunities it provides for the citizens of Rhode Island.
For more information on Question 4, go to voteyes4highered