PRESS RELEASE FROM WEST TEXAS A&M UNIVERSITY:
The Texas A&M University System Regents today announced plans for a $22.8 million building for veterinary education, research and workforce opportunities in the Panhandle as part of almost $90 million in new commitments to the state agriculture industry on the West Texas A&M University campus.
In a special telephonic meeting Thursday morning, the Board of Regents added the Texas A&M University’s new Veterinary Education, Research & Outreach (VERO) Center to its Capital Plan. The VERO Center will be constructed adjacent to West Texas A&M University’s new Agricultural Sciences Complex and a new Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory (TVMDL) facility currently in the process of relocating from Amarillo to Canyon.
“This is a great day for Texas A&M, West Texas A&M and the Panhandle,” said Chancellor John Sharp. “With these three new facilities in Canyon, the Texas A&M System has invested nearly $90 million in the future of agriculture and animal health in this region. We have created a two-way superhighway of veterinary education and research activity from Canyon to College Station, and it runs right through these new structures.”
Once the VERO Center is completed in 2020, it will provide an anchor in Canyon where students from Texas A&M’s College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM) will be able to take courses, participate in externship programs and conduct research. Opportunities for research and collaboration with faculty and staff at TVMDL, West Texas A&M’s Agricultural Sciences Complex and the CVM’s VERO Center will be available to students from both Texas A&M and West Texas A&M.
“This arrangement is a perfect model of how, through collaboration with the System’s regional universities and state agencies, we can expand our reach and our impact on the lives of Texans,” said Texas A&M President Michael Young.
“When we first announced this partnership, we indicated that we wanted to increase enrollment of promising future veterinarians from the Panhandle area at the CVM, knowing that they were more likely to return and work in this area following graduation,” said West Texas A&M President Walter Wendler. “By bringing the College of Veterinary Medicine to WT, those students won’t have to wait until after they graduate to come home and begin making a difference.”
Thursday’s announcement is the latest development in a nine-year effort on the part of the CVM to expand veterinary education, research and undergraduate outreach throughout the state.
In 2009, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board encouraged the veterinary school to increase its enrollment to meet future state needs. With no state appropriation available for construction during the recession, Texas A&M invested $120 million from the Permanent University Fund to construct a new teaching complex, which opened in 2016. That same year, in anticipation of their expanded capacity for enrollment, the CVM announced partnerships with four System institutions – West Texas A&M University, Tarleton State University, Prairie View A&M University and Texas A&M University-Kingsville – designed to encourage more underrepresented minorities and rural students to pursue veterinary education.
An initial focus was placed on the partnership with West Texas A&M University because of its location in the epicenter of the U.S. livestock industry. The CVM established the Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Center at WTAMU in 2016 and hired Dr. Dee Griffin and Dr. Dan Posey, two experienced veterinary professionals, to build a program to address regional industry needs and enhance interest among students. Evidence of success materialized quickly. In 2017, West Texas A&M University’s College of Agriculture and Natural Sciences set a school record of 10 graduating pre-veterinary majors who were accepted into veterinary schools. Nine of the 10 went to Texas A&M.
“We are thrilled by the rapid return in our investment in West Texas A&M and ecstatic to be establishing a permanent presence on their campus,” said Dr. Eleanor M. Green, the Carl B. King Dean of Texas A&M’s CVM. “The Texas Panhandle leads the nation in livestock production, so it is vital that we continue to provide this region with exceptional graduates and quality service as only Texas A&M can. Our success here will also inform our approach with the three other partnerships that make up our statewide, system-wide initiative.”
END OF RELEASE FROM WTAMU.
Texas Tech University released a statement, saying:
“We are encouraged others have recognized a long-standing, inadequately addressed need for our state and nation. This announcement does not deter our focus nor efforts to address the critical shortage of rural veterinarians, and we welcome the opportunity to collaborate with others on this important matter. On behalf of the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center and the Texas Tech University System, we are thankful for the support of our legislative representatives, the agricultural industry, and our Amarillo and state partners as we continue to pursue our proven, innovative model to provide more opportunities for students to receive a cost-efficient veterinary education in our state.
- Guy Loneragan
Amarillo Matters released a statement applauding WT.
They also said they will continue to push for an Amarillo veterinary school.
Their statement reads,
For the past 25 years there’s been an unmet need pertaining to veterinarians in rural areas across the state, including the Texas Panhandle. To address that need, our community began efforts to attract a four-year veterinary school to Amarillo during the last legislative session. We were successful in securing more than $4 million in the state budget allocated to Texas Tech to begin the process of building an innovative, world-class large animal veterinary school on the campus of the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in Amarillo.
The program developed for the Texas Tech University School of Veterinary Medicine will provide the needed capacity to contribute vital support to the agricultural communities of the Panhandle and beyond. It will focus on educating aspiring veterinarians who understand what it means to serve in these communities and in an industry whose success is imperative to the economic livelihood of our state.
Today’s announcement at West Texas A&M University is a step in the right direction and will be great for our area. We are glad other institutions are recognizing the critical need for veterinarians. However, it is crucial our community continues its efforts in securing a full four-year veterinary school with a large animal emphasis.
We look forward to continuing to work with the City of Amarillo, Texas Tech, West Texas A&M, and community leaders across the Texas Panhandle to bring an innovative four-year veterinary school to Amarillo.
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