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The Texas A&M Irma Lerma Rangel School of Pharmacy is named for District 35 Representative Irma Lerma Rangel, chair of the House Higher Education Committee, who long fought for the first professional school in South Texas and died of cancer in March 2003. A groundbreaking on the three-story, 63,000-square-foot facility — featuring wireless access and research laboratories — occurred the same month Rangel died, and the school was officially named after her in October 2004.

Meeting the needs of Texas

A shortfall of as many as 157,000 pharmacists nationwide is predicted by the year 2020, according to the Pharmacy Manpower Project Inc. A report by the Texas Department of Health Education and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board indicates the Texas-Mexico border region has a population-to-pharmacist ratio of 1,700 to 1, 32 percent above the statewide ratio.

Still, opening the Rangel School of Pharmacy was a challenge. A bill creating the pharmacy school was passed in 2001, and tuition revenue bonds were authorized to finance building construction. University officials asked for about $13 million in emergency appropriations from the legislature for operational costs for the 2006-2007 biennium. Although $10 million was included in the supplemental appropriations bill, at adjournment, funding was denied.

In 2004, The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents committed $3.1 million to hire the initial cohort of faculty and prepare for full accreditation for the pharmacy school. Again though, a lack of state funding for operations delayed the planned fall 2005 opening until fall 2006.

Following approval of The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, the Texas A&M Irma Lerma Rangel School of Pharmacy officially joined the Texas A&M University Health Science Center in April 2006. Classes for the first 70 students in the school, on the Texas A&M University-Kingsville campus, began in August 2006.

Growth and Expansion

The Texas A&M Health Science Center officially merged with Texas A&M University in 2013. Even though the main campus is physically located in Kingsville, more than six hours from College Station, the school is proud to be part of Aggieland with its rich history and traditions.

After an increasing need for additional capacity each year — with 647 applicants vying for 87 spots in Kingsville in 2013 — the school opened a branch campus in Bryan-College Station. In fall 2014, 87 student pharmacists joined the Kingsville campus, and for the first time in the school's history, an additional 33 students began coursework in Bryan-College Station. The school will add 30 to 35 students to the Bryan-College Station campus each year until reaching the full, four-year complement.