AUGUSTA (AP) – Husson College plans to begin offering pharmacy classes in the fall of 2008 after its proposal to open the state’s first pharmacy school was approved by the Maine State Board of Education.

The board on Wednesday unanimously approved the Bangor college’s plan to offer doctor of pharmacy degrees.

Husson President William Beardsley said the school would launch a three-year undergraduate pharmacy program in the fall of 2008 and a three-year graduate program in 2009. Each program would have an initial class of 65 students, and the first doctorates would be awarded in 2014.

There is a great need for pharmacists. The Maine Department of Labor’s estimates that the state will need 40 to 50 new pharmacists every year for the next 10 years, Beardsley said.

While approving Husson’s proposal for a pharmacy school, the Board of Education on Wednesday tabled the school’s plan to establish a law school.

Board members said they had some uncertainty about the fine points of the law program and invited school officials to return next month with more detailed information.

Beardsley told the board that the proposal was designed to offer law degrees to students in the northern, central and eastern parts of the state.

The state now has one law school, the University of Maine School of Law, located in Portland.

Beardsley said there is a need for another law school in Maine. Of the 150 lawyers now practicing in Waldo, Hancock and Penobscot counties, just 25 percent are under age 50, he said.

Husson hopes to launch the program in the fall of 2008 and offer the law curriculum during the late afternoon and evenings when the campus is less populated.

Board of Education Chairman James Carignan of Harpswell said board members had some “uneasiness” with the proposal because a review team failed to provide the board with documentation in the format it was accustomed to.

The review team was made up of the president of Bowdoin College, a former chief justice of the Maine supreme court and three other highly regarded Maine lawyers.

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