NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) — East Tennessee State University (ETSU) President Dr. Brian Noland met with one of the state’s top legislators to talk about difficulties the university’s school of pharmacy is facing.

Tennessee Speaker of the House Cameron Sexton tweeted Wednesday that he met with Noland and state Rep. Gary Hicks (R-Rogersville) to “discuss [the Gatton College of Pharmacy] and new resources for students.”

Sexton wrote in the tweet that he appreciated the partnership of Noland and Hicks “as we all continue working together for the benefit of emerging professionals within this critical industry.”

News Channel 11 spoke with Noland Thursday morning about the conversation regarding the pharmacy school, which has faced an enrollment decline due to its tuition being about 70% higher than the state’s other pharmacy school in Memphis. That gap grew larger five years ago when the state assisted in reducing tuition at the UT College of Pharmacy in Memphis.

“We’ve met with a number of elected officials but had an outstanding meeting with Speaker Sexton,” Noland said. “Just talking about the mission of the institution and how the College of Pharmacy is an integral part of that mission to improve quality of life for the people of our region.”

Gatton College of Pharmacy is a privately funded school that exists within ETSU. Gov. Bill Lee’s latest proposed budget included no state funds for the college despite efforts from local lawmakers.

“We are hopeful that we’ll be able to continue to tell that story and at some point here be able to make some adjustments to the longstanding operating structure of debt and truly make it a state-funded part of the university,” Noland said.

Noland said his hope is that sometime in the next year, Gatton will be able to receive some level of state funding to offset the tuition disparity.