Monday, May 7, 2012

Pharmacy-school debacle brought down Midway College president, raised questions

By Cassidy Herrington
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

Midway College’s ambitious plan for a pharmacy school in Eastern Kentucky was a ship that sank before it ever sailed, taking the college’s president with it.

The private college twice withdrew its applications for accreditation of the school, amid doubts from accreditors. The project died last month when its would-be rescuer, the University of Charleston, decided not to proceed with it.

The debacle has raised questions about the management, health and future direction of Midway College, which is Midway’s biggest taxpayer and probably its largest landowner.

The departure of William “Butch” Drake, right, as president was described as a resignation, but from all other indications, he was fired or told to resign.

“The executive committee or the chairman said he should go,” said Emily Gable of Frankfort, a member of the college’s Board of Trustees. And, she said, the main reason was the pharmacy school.

That seems to be common knowledge on campus. “A lot of different things . . . contributed to it but it mostly boiled down to the pharmacy school,” said Ali Edwards, a Midway College nursing student.

Paintsville lawyer Chad Perry and his wife, Julianne “Judy” Perry, a trustee of Midway College, launched the project after Chad Perry’s initial dream of an osteopathic medical school ended up becoming a reality in Pikeville instead.

The couple pledged $13 million to the project. A Jan. 23, 2010, codicil to their wills says $12 million “is to be spent on a building, and to date we have paid $1,050,000.”

The City of Paintsville contributed a site and building for temporary use, valued at $1.25 million, and Johnson County committed $200,000. (Map by Cody Porter from MapQuest image)

The Perrys’ vision was to provide more jobs and access to health care for Central Appalachia. Drake projected that the school would bring in $30 million annually and create more than 100 jobs.

To be accredited, the school had to hire and pay faculty a year in advance. More than two years and millions of dollars later, there is no pharmacy school in Paintsville and there is unlikely to be one.

For the full story, click here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to thank Cassidy Herrington for posting this article. I was one of the students involved and this article told me several things that I didn't know.