By Gwen Moritz

SEARCY, Ark. (BNc)– Harding University has received “pre-candidate accreditation” for its new College of Pharmacy, which will start operation in August with up to 60 students.

Harding had initially intended to begin teaching doctor of pharmacy candidates in the Fall semester of 2007, but that was postponed by a year — primarily, it seems, because of the difficulty in recruiting enough qualified staff members who also belong to churches of Christ.

Thirty-five students from 11 states have already been accepted for Fall enrollment and more than 245 additional applications have been received, according to a university news release.

A new doctor of pharmacy program must attain pre-accreditation status twice from the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education. Harding’s program has received the first of these through June 30, 2009. ACPE will schedule a site visit for Spring 2009 to consider the college’s advancement to candidate status.

Dr. Julie Hixon-Wallace is dean of the college. She joined Harding in 2006, coming from Mercer University Southern School of Pharmacy in Atlanta, where she was assistant dean for administration and clinical associate professor. She holds the doctor of pharmacy degree from Mercer.

Harding is the largest private university in Arkansas and the eighth-largest among all colleges and universities in the state, with Fall 2007 enrollment of more than 6,300.

Also in the medical field, Harding continues to lead the state’s four-year colleges in the percentage of students who successfully pass the NCLEX-RN licensure examination for first-time candidates.

According to the Arkansas State Board of Nursing, Harding had the highest percentage of students pass the exam of any baccalaureate degree registered nursing program in the state. Between July 2006 and June 2007, 95.1% of Harding nursing students passed the exam. The state average was 90.6%.