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Human Ingenuity + Cutting Edge Technology = Award-Winning Program

Palmetto Award Recipients

In gifted hands, a chainsaw can make an intricate and delicate ice sculpture. Yet in the hands of the unskilled, the most sophisticated and precise piece of medical equipment can maim rather than heal. It’s all in what you do with it.

At the South Carolina College of Pharmacy, sure hands at the tiller of the information technology program have leveraged applications and architecture to produce an award-winning distance education program – the program was recognized August 20 with the Technology in Education/Government Award during the 11th Annual Palmetto Pillar Awards Banquet at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Columbia, S.C.

“We’re justifiably proud of our distance education and information technology programs,” said Joseph T. DiPiro, executive dean of the South Carolina College of Pharmacy (SCCP). “We’ve invested in getting the right equipment systems and the right people to run them. Part of that is our distance education program, which enables our students to be taught by the state’s foremost expert — from various locations — while still enjoying all the benefits of a predominantly face-to-face educational experience.”

The annual awards are presented to the leaders and innovators in technology from the Columbia Information Technology Council, an umbrella information technology (IT) program affiliated with the Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce. The specific award the SCCP is honored with is the Technology in Education/Government Award, which recognizes a company or organization for the application or development of innovative technology-based projects and programs that impact government or education and related operations.

“Our distance education team was dealing with a unique challenge,” said SCCP IT director James Remsey, referring to the unprecedented integration of the pharmacy schools at SCCP founding institutions University of South Carolina (USC) and Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC). “The integration of two independent colleges of pharmacy requires a sophisticated distance education program. The innovative process to leverage the two independent architectures to deliver that program has enabled the College to provide a consistent and top quality academic program.”

The members of the technology team include Remsey; John Williams, distance education director; Lewis Zeigler, distance education; Will Donaldson, network administration; Jeff Osmer, IT coordinator; and Justin Muir, distance education coordinator.

The distance education (DE) program is leveraging the use of video conferencing applications and the South Carolina Light Rail architecture to combine the strengths of each University’s faculty and academic expertise and broaden the overall academic experience for each student. Additionally, the program has facilitated collaboration amongst faculty and advancement of pharmacy education in the state.

 “Distance education is a fact of life in the future of higher education,” Remsey said. “Having two complete campuses has created the opportunity to be ahead of the curve. We don’t just turn on a video camera and say, ‘There’s our DE program.’ Ours is in real time no matter the location and it is concurrently stored on-line. Students can access all lectures, DE and on-site, at any time all semester. There are interactive components for students at both sites and we’re working on improvements to increase that even more. The DE component may just be a small slice of their education here, but it is a valuable experience. How much better prepared are they going to be in a future filled with Web-based global communication?”

For more than 120 years, MUSC and USC pharmacy alumni have had a sustained impact on the health and welfare of their communities, including thousands in the State of South Carolina. The College has exceptionally bright and motivated students, and nationally recognized faculty members who excel in the clinical and research areas. Students come to the SCCP because of the value they see in the program – a proud tradition of high quality, personalized education at a reasonable cost. United under a common banner, the South Carolina College of Pharmacy has the resources of a nationally ranked academic medical center and a comprehensive flagship state university.

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