On Oct. 26, Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) formally renamed its Crestview Education Center in downtown Crestview, Fla. after the late Durell Peaden Jr., M.D., J.D. Peaden, a former state senator from the area was the driving force behind the center’s establishment.
In a sense, FAMU Crestview was Peaden’s singular vision. A self-described “country doctor,” Peaden’s vision was to provide additional opportunities for advanced training in the health professions for students in rural Northwest Florida. The FAMU College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences’ Crestview program leading to the Doctor of Pharmacy degree is a realization of his vision to inspire and educate the next generation of healthcare professionals to serve in rural and underserved locations.
Peaden not only shepherded funding for FAMU Crestview through the Florida Legislature during his time as chair of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, he also convinced the City of Crestview to donate a 41,000 sq. ft. downtown building and property to FAMU, valued at $630,000. In total, Peaden steered more than $12 million to the Crestview campus for program planning and building renovations.
“Peaden’s care and concern for this program went well beyond the construction phase; he often stopped by to check on the students and their progress and to meet with staff,” said Provost Marcella David in her remarks at the ceremony.
FAMU Crestview opened its doors in fall 2012 and will graduate its first class of newly minted Doctor of Pharmacy professionals in May 2016. True to Senator Peaden’s vision, FAMU recruits students into the program from the five state colleges, and the University of West Florida, which are within a 30-45 minute drive of FAMU Crestview. Each student is expected to hold a commitment to practicing in rural and underserved areas.
Also in fulfillment of Peaden’s vision, last year FAMU Crestview students provided over 4,000 volunteer hours performing health outreach, health screenings, and health fairs impacting over 114,000 residents of the Florida panhandle.
“The real honor for Durell Peaden is not his name on the building,” State Sen. Don Gaetz said. “The real honor is the people standing in this room with the white coats on,” he added, referring to pharmacy students studying at FAMU Crestview.