By Valerie Shelton, Editor
It’s official: California Health Sciences University will be staying in Clovis, constructing its permanent campus in the Clovis Research and Technology Park on Alluvial and Temperance.
Darius Assemi, a board of trustees’ member with CHSU, announced the news before the Clovis City Council on April 11.
Assemi said he excited to continue working with Clovis and pursuing his dream, and the dream of CHSU president Florence Dunn and many others, of one day having a medical school in the Central Valley. Clovis, with its strong foundation and focus on education, is the premiere location for such a school, Assemi said.
“There is a huge need for medical professionals in our community,” Assemi said. “We have a really tough job bringing doctors, physicians and pharmacists into the Valley. They all go to San Francisco and Los Angeles, so Flo and I were dreaming, wondering if it was possible for us to open up a medical school in the Central Valley and in Fresno County. God knows where we were going to put it and to be naive a little bit, it helps not knowing what a big task is in front of you. That was four years ago. I’m proud to tell you that California Health Sciences University now has 120 students, next August we hope to have 180 students and in 2018, in the city of Clovis, we’re going to have 60 graduates with Doctorate degrees in Pharmacy. I can’t tell you how happy this makes me and how happy I am that it is the city of Clovis where this will happen.”
Assemi said CHSU administrators and trustees search for a permanent location for the school for some time, looking at properties available in Fresno, Madera and Clovis. Finally, he said, they selected property in the Clovis Research and Technology Park, conveniently located near the Clovis Community Medical Center. First, Assemi said, CHSU plans to construct a permanent building for its growing pharmacy school. After that, he said they plan to add more programs and hopefully, one day become a full-fledged medical school.
“By the grace of God, we hope to the pharmacy school is the first step toward a full medical school with 3,000 students and 300-400 faculty and staff. It is going to be a game changer for our Valley,” Assemi said.
CHSU provost Wendy Duncan said providing educational resources like this here in the Valley is the best way to attract more medical professionals to the area—it’s all about training your own, she said.
“We are committed to increasing opportunity in the Central Valley,” Duncan said. “This is considered to be a federally designated underserved area for primary care and we are committed to doing something about that. The very best way to do that is to bring students from the Central Valley, educate them here and encourage them to stay in the Central Valley. We started with the pharmacy program and we’re beginning to look at health sciences next and if we’re lucky a medical school down the road. We’re hoping this will really augment the access to care here.”
City staff and council members expressed their excitement about not only retaining the pharmacy school in Clovis, but about the future of CHSU and all the opportunities it will bring to students, patients and the Central Valley as a whole.
Mayor Nathan Magsig said the city knew four years ago how huge CHSU could be for the Central Valley and was proud to partner with them at the very beginning. Seeing how successful the pharmacy school has been in such a short time, he said, is encouraging and he can’t wait to see what is next.
“It was three to four years ago that it became clear that CHSU wanted to continue to work with the county but needed to accelerate the process because you had students who were ready to begin enrollment and begin their education,” Magsig said. “Clovis had some buildings that were going to be suitable for CHSU and our staff worked diligently to make sure those facilities were made available… Our staff continued to work with CHSU because we recognized the value of what this school brings to the region and ultimately we wanted that school here in the city of Clovis. I’m very excited that you have landed on the Research and Technology Park to build this school because it is not only going to create a lot of jobs in the construction of the school, but you’re going to have a lot of faculty there and students there that are going to want to find careers here in the Central Valley as well. I look forward to the future and us working together and I firmly believe that we will develop together a project that in the end is going to benefit the city of Clovis, the metropolitan area and the entire Central Valley.”
CHSU has been holding classes for its College of Pharmacy students at its interim campus at 120 N. Clovis Avenue since August 2014. A 70,000 square-foot College of Pharmacy building will be the first constructed at the new CHSU campus on Temperance and Highway 168, just north of Clovis Community Medical Center.
The permanent campus will be able to accommodate up to 10 health sciences related colleges at full build-out. The new campus will also include a library, on-campus academic and student housing, student center, auditorium, quad and an administrative building.
Construction on the new College of Pharmacy building is planned to start in 2017 and the university hopes to have the first building at the new campus completed in the fall of 2019. Development of the new campus will occur in multiple phases as each new health science related college is established. The entire development and construction process for CHSU will likely take up to 20 years.
For more information about CHSU and the Doctor of Pharmacy program, visit www.chsu.org, call 559-325-3600 or find them on facebook, twitter and Linkedin.