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Update On The New TTU Vet School: Latest Hurdle Cleared

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The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board recently approved the doctorate of veterinary medicine degree program at Texas Tech’s soon-to be-constructed facility in Amarillo. The approval happened last month.

University president Lawrence Schovanec sees the vet school as a monumental achievement for Tech.

“Some may think this phrase has been over-used, “historic,” “monumental,” but a year ago, during the session, as we began to gain some confidence that the funding was forthcoming, we saw approval by the coordinating board is the major hurdle to overcome. So the fact that the testimony went so well and there was a unanimous vote of support, it was an enormously important day for Texas Tech. Now we have to make it all work in terms of budget, hiring these people, getting that facility built, I mean this is going to happen. You’re going to look back on this, and in my opinion it will be up there, like getting into the Southwest Conference, getting a medical school, changing the name from Texas Technological College.”

The road traversed to the approval wasn’t easy, as opposition to a new vet school grew fierce. But Tech never backed down because university officials saw the need to provide an affordable program to help rural Texans and their large animal operations.

Schovanec says the response from those interested comes from far and wide across the state. The first class will be 60 students and will eventually reach 240 students.

“The outpouring of interest and enthusiasm is amazing, far and wide in the state of Texas. We take a very wholistic approach to the recruitment and admission of students, trying to identify those that will have the characteristics that reflect what we said would be our priorities. You will get a degree that enables you to practice any manner of veterinary medicine, but we;d like to make sure that we’re addressing a need in the large animal industry and in rural Texas.”

Ground was broken last fall, just months after state lawmakers recognized the need for a new school of veterinary medicine. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed the state budget with $17.35 million appropriated for the school that will be north of the university’s health science center in Amarillo. That funding will go toward operational needs to get the school up and running.

Donors and civic leaders have pledged more than $90 million toward infrastructure, construction and scholarships for the School of Veterinary Medicine.

Along the way, Texas A&M University sought to put up roadblocks to Tech opening the Amarillo facility. 

“And I think we have to be honest and admit that as we dealt with the opposition to the idea of the Vet school, I think there were some that thought this would be the roadblock. We spent last year meeting with every member of the coordinating board, but we travelled around the state to meet them and I couldn’t be more impressed by the objective manner in which they approached this, and they let the facts speak for themselves, as it relates to need. You know, opportunity for students, at reduced cost, as opposed to going out of state or out of country. My hope is that we can begin to collaborate and work together. Why not? And that we’ll get over whatever different viewpoints we had and do what’s best for this region.”

A separate set of facilities that will serve as the large-animal focal point of the school will be named the School of Veterinary Medicine Mariposa Station. Together, these facilities support the school’s instruction, research and outreach mission.

Schovanec says he’s grateful to Tech administrators who shepherded the process over the past couple of years.

“It’s a very extensive process, it involved a lot of paperwork, a lot of reporting. Guy Loneragan was essential to this, but over in the provost office, Genevieve Durham did a fabulous job of coordinating and communicating with the coordinating board, and like I said, the staff members of the coordinating board couldn’t have been better.”

The final step will be accreditation this spring from the American Veterinary Medicine Association.