The University of Hawaii at Hilo is broke ground Friday afternoon a permanent home for the Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy.

The groundbreaking and blessing ceremony, held at the construction site on South Ahoku Street, featured speakers including University of Hawaii President David Lassner, Hawaii County Mayor William “Billy” Kenoi and Jennifer Sabas, the former chief of staff for the late Senator Daniel Inouye.

“The college of pharmacy has proven it is an economic engine that helps drive the entire community, and yet we couldn’t provide a permanent facility to carry on our work without help from the legislature,” Founding Dean John Pezzuto told PBN. “A groundbreaking to acknowledge that trust is indeed a day to celebrate.”

The pharmacy college was established in 2006. Pezzuto was set to leave his post at the end of the year to take a job as the dean of the Arnold and Marie Schwartz College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences at Long Island University in Brooklyn, New York, but his date of departure has been postponed. No steps have been taken to find a replacement, according to Maggie Morris, the college’s public information officer.

Bert Matsuo, a third-year student pursuing a doctorate in pharmacy, said that the new building has been a dream for the both the university system and Hawaii.

“The Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy has continued to produce top pharmacists throughout the nation,” Matsuo said. “This building simply solidifies the school’s mission and demonstrates we are here to stay.”

Shanon Makanui, also in her third year pursuing a doctorate in pharmacy, said that although the school endured its share of growing pains, it has succeeded in offering a solid education for Hawaii students and future pharmacists.

“This building symbolizes diligence and growth and reminds us to remain visionaries if we want our community to be served in the best way possible,” Makanui said.

The college received full accreditation by the Accreditation Council of Pharmacy Education in 2011. It ranked in the nation’s top five new schools of pharmacy by the US News and World Report in its first eligible year to be evaluated in 2012.

The school has graduated four classes to date, and the estimated statewide economic impact is more than $50 million a year, according to the university.