The university is convening a task force that will spend the next six months exploring the possibility of adding a veterinary medical college to its Jonesboro campus.
In Arkansas, large animal veterinarians are in high demand but short supply, and some companion animal owners must travel long distances to find a veterinarian. With no veterinary school in the state, interested students must apply to out-of-state programs, but that could soon change, according to an Arkansas State University press release.
In a press conference last Friday, Chancellor Kelly Damphousse, PhD, announced an agreement to collaborate with Adtalem Global Education (ATGE), the parent company of AVMA-accredited Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine, to explore the feasibility of creating the first college of veterinary medicine in the state.
The agreement involves a 180-day exploration period that will include a series of discussions about how to bring this vision to life. “We plan to work closely with veterinarians throughout Arkansas as we move forward in the development of this new college,” Dr. Damphousse said.
Donald Kennedy, PhD, MEd, BS, interim dean and professor of animal science at A-State who will be chairing a task force to evaluate this endeavor, called the potential veterinary school a “dream come true” for many pre-vet students. “I’ve seen a lot of great A-State students who had a dream of being a vet unable to get a slot in a vet college,” he said. “Now we have the chance to open up more slots.”
Senior A-State student Dillon Lechak is one of those students, and he is thrilled about this exciting opportunity. “As a person who has been denied by a veterinary school for the first time, I really think this can open up many doors for current and future students,” he said at the press conference.
According to the release, “the proposed veterinary medicine program would enroll classes of approximately 120 students each year.” Accreditation for the program would be sought by A-State, and graduates would have A-State academic credentials. Additionally, Adtalem would provide “expertise related to veterinary program management and accreditation, as well as capital and operating expense funding."
“With the current resources that Arkansas State can bring to this process, we believe we can have a tremendous positive impact on the veterinarian profession and our agricultural industry,” Dr. Kennedy said.
While news of the potential veterinary school has been well received, Dr. Damphouse wants to emphasize that A-State is only in the “beginning stages” of this process. “This is a 6-month window to explore the opportunity. We are not committing to starting a vet school yet,” he said.
The memorandum of agreement currently awaits approval by the Arkansas State University System Board of Trustees and the ATGE board.