A meeting of the Executive Committee of the Purdue University Board of Trustees convened at 10:01 a.m. on Thursday, April 9, 2020, on the Purdue University campus in West Lafayette, Indiana, in Hovde Hall, Room 201.
On March 23, 2020, during the unprecedented, worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Eric Holcomb issued Executive Order 20-09 which provided that all members of the Board (or a committee thereof) may meet by means of electronic communication so long as a quorum of members participated and the meeting was made available to members of the public and the media. Therefore, all members of the Executive Committee participated by telephone conference call: Michael Berghoff, chairman; Sonny Beck; JoAnn Brouillette; Vanessa Castagna; and Thomas Spurgeon, vice chairman.
Officers and administrators in attendance were: Jay Akridge, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs and diversity (by phone); Jim Almond, senior vice president, assistant treasurer, and assistant secretary (by phone); Steve Schultz, general counsel; Janice Indrutz, corporate secretary and senior executive assistant to the Board; Kris Wong-Davis, vice provost for enrollment management (by phone); and Eric Barker, dean of the College of Pharmacy (by phone).
I. CALL TO ORDER
Chairman Berghoff called the meeting to order and said the Committee was interested in learning more about the recommendation on the agenda.
II. APPROVAL TO CONFER DEGREES OF 4TH YEAR PHARMD STUDENTS
On behalf of Dean Barker, Provost Akridge respectfully requested the Committee’s approval to confer the degree of Doctor of Pharmacy on all eligible 4th year PharmD students as of April 17, 2020, for reasons related to the COVID-19 pandemic. He explained that board exam testing centers were beginning to reopen at reduced capacity, so early conferral would allow the students to proceed with scheduling their exams ahead of a foreseen delay. And, in response to inquiries from health care systems, early conferral would also allow the students to work as graduate pharmacists before licensure and assist with workforce issues as the pandemic continued to unfold. Vice Chairman Spurgeon moved approval to confer the degrees early, and Trustee Castagna seconded the motion.
In response to a question from Trustee Castagna, Dean Barker informed the Committee that all 144 students in the program would receive their degrees after having fulfilled the requirements of the professional program as of April 1, 2020. Dean Barker indicated that, due to the pandemic, he had received inquiries from health systems and community pharmacies about the availability of graduates, and he expressed his belief that Purdue’s was the only school of pharmacy seeking to take this step. Dean Barker expressed his appreciation to Vice Provost Wong Davis and Provost Akridge for their support of the recommendation. Trustee Castagna thanked Dean Barker for his leadership and expressed her belief that it was the right thing to do.
In response to questions from Chairman Berghoff, Dean Barker informed the Committee that, because testing centers had been closed on March 16 due to the pandemic and would reopen on April 16, a backlog of testing was expected in May when other pharmacy students graduated across the country, and he described the process by which and time it takes for students to become certified to schedule their exams. Dean Barker said he expected most of the graduates to take their exams, while some would go into industry and not require licensure. He also informed the Committee that he would make a special request of the State to grant a 90-day license upon application, as was done for other health care professionals, so that graduates could begin working in community and hospital pharmacies and free up experienced pharmacists to handle complex cases. He added that a few rural pharmacies, he learned, had to close during the pandemic due to staff illnesses and said it was critical for pharmacies to remain open.
Upon the proper motion duly made and seconded, the Executive Committee voted unanimously by roll call to confer the degrees of the 4th year PharmD students as of April 17, 2020. Chairman Berghoff thanked everyone who had been involved in bringing forth this creative and innovative recommendation and said taking this step would further enhance the reputation of a Purdue pharmacy degree.
By consent, the meeting adjourned at 10:13 a.m.