FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 15, 2006
AUSTIN, TX -- Through the course of about 10 days, Rep. Vilma Luna (D-Corpus Christi) and Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr., (D-Brownsville) successfully worked to pass and send to the Governor's desk House Bill 154 which would transfer the administration of the Irma Rangel School of Pharmacy to the Texas A&M University System Health Science Center (TAMUSHSC).
"With a unanimous vote of 29-0, the Texas Senate sent a strong message to those who questioned the future of the Irma Rangel School of Pharmacy," said Sen. Lucio, senate sponsor of HB 154. "I commend my good friend Representative Luna for her leadership in championing HB 154 in the Texas House of Representatives. Her tireless work and dedication were instrumental in making this transfer a reality," added Sen. Lucio.
"Transfer of the Representative Irma Rangel Pharmacy School to the A&M Health Science Center creates a partnership that takes advantage of the Science Center's existing resources and provides a strong foundation for the Pharmacy School. I would like to thank Senator Lucio for his work in getting this legislation passed, which has been a top priority for the Coastal Bend and South Texas. Representative Irma Rangel's dream for improving health care in the area with the creation of a Pharmacy School is now a reality with the passage of this legislation," said Rep. Luna.
"The transfer makes the Pharmacy School eligible for health formula reimbursements and securing long-term funding for the new school. Because of the tenacious efforts of Rep. Luna and Sen. Lucio, this new program will be meeting the pharmacy shortages in South Texas within the next few years," said Dr. Rumaldo Z. Juarez, President of Texas A&M University-Kingsville.
"Sen. Lucio's persistence to establish the first professional school in South Texas finally paid off as he teamed up with Rep. Vilma Luna in the House of Representatives to pass HB 154," continued President Juarez.
On May 8, 2006, as Chairman of the Senate Committee on International Relations and Trade, Sen. Lucio wrote to Gov. Rick Perry alerting him that he had joined forces with Rep. Luna to provide a wealth of resources to the School of Pharmacy by transferring its administration to TAMUSHSC. Specifically, Chairman Lucio wrote:
"With a sense of urgency, I write you on behalf of our South Texas constituents to respectfully ask you to add to the call of the current special session the administrative transfer of the Irma Rangel School of Pharmacy from the Texas A&M University-Kingsville to the Texas A&M University System Health Science Center."
"As I explained in my correspondence, the Pharmacy School is not only greatly needed for South Texas, but for the state as a whole. That is why I am thankful that Governor Perry put this critical legislative measure on the call of this special session. I'm equally as thankful to Texas House Speaker Tom Craddick and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in assisting Rep. Luna and me in passing this historic measure in record time," said Sen. Lucio.
In a prior statement, A&M officials indicated that transferring the School of Pharmacy to the Health Science Center is beneficial since the Center can offer funding support and critical academic resources to the School. President of the Health Science Center and Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs for the A&M System, Nancy W. Dickey, stated that "including the College of Pharmacy within the Health Science Center is consistent with our mission, vision and original legislative mandates to address health-related needs and gaps in the health-related workforce in underserved areas in Texas." President Dickey also noted, "Nationwide, pharmacy programs offered within health-related institutions like ours are highly successful in attracting, developing and retaining a diverse group of exemplary faculty, staff and students."
President Juarez also stated the following when the A&M Board of Regents provided initial approval to the transfer before it was proposed to be codified by the enactment of HB 154, "Although the Rangel College of Pharmacy will not be managed by Texas A&M University-Kingsville, its location on our campus will enable it to function in close partnership with the University, thereby enhancing and strengthening vital education programs, outreach activities and research efforts for both institutions and throughout the Coastal Bend and South Texas regions. . . It's a win-win for both institutions."
Sen. Lucio, realizing the critical need to work closely with colleagues for the good of the South Texas area added, "I look forward to working with Rep. Luna on issues that are important to South Texas and the Gulf Coast Region. Together we can look forward to accomplishing even more for the people we represent."
Note: Senate International Relations and Trade Committee Director Dan Esparza handles this issue for Chairman Lucio. Izhmon Martinez, Legislative Aide, handles this issue for Representative Vilma Luna.