More than Florida A&M University’s new Rural Diversity Healthcare Center was showcased at Wednesday morning’s “topping-off” ceremony, which marked the completion of major structural construction on Crestview’s historic Alatex Building, which is being converted into a pharmacy school.

Former state senator Dr. Durell Peaden adds his signature to the last piece of structural steel as FAMU President Dr. James Ammons, right, and other dignitaries observe. (Crestview News Bulletin)

Officials also lauded the unique community and institutional partnership as “the future of education.”

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“This partnership is going to be the one to watch,” FAMU president Dr. James Ammons said. “This partnership is going to be the model that’s studied all over America.”

Former state senator, Dr. Durell Peaden, was recognized by officials as the motivating force behind fulfilling Ammons’ vision for a pharmacy school in Northwest Florida.

“We talked about building it in another city,” Ammons recalled. “As soon as I got the name of the other city out of my mouth, he said, ‘Oh no, I have a better place.’ You don’t have a better champion for Crestview than senator Peaden.”

“Dr. Ammons has a vision about education. It’s a good vision,” Peaden said. “This is the future of education. It ought to be a partnership between communities and institutions. You don’t need people in Tallahassee telling you how to run education in your own community.”

Ammons praised local officials including Crestview Mayor David Cadle, City Council President Charles Baugh Jr., and Okaloosa County Commissioner Wayne Harris for their support in the historic building’s conversion to a satellite campus of FAMU’s School of Pharmacy. Students are scheduled to begin classes leading to a doctor of pharmacy degree in August.

(Crestview News Bulletin)