COE rejects University of Arizona's veterinary school proposal a second time


The novel-concept veterinary school can reapply for accreditation in June.

An architect's rendering of the facility for the proposed veterinary school at the University of Arizona. (Image courtesy of University of Arizona.)

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) Council on Education (COE) has rejected the University of Arizona School of Veterinary Medicine's proposal for accreditation a second time, according to a release from the university. The plan for the school is a novel fast-track concept that will allow students to complete their doctorate of veterinary medicine degree in three years, instead of the traditional four.

UA plans to revise and resubmit its proposal and has already taken steps to begin the revision process, the release states. This includes hiring veterinary consultant Mark Cushing, JD, of the Animal Policy Group, who has experience with COE accreditation.

"Accreditation should be viewed as a process, not an obstacle, and pursuing accreditation is central to our goal of providing a superior program of the highest quality," Andrew Comrie, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost, says in the release. "We intend to work with the COE to meet or exceed all of its standards and become a program worthy of Arizona and the University of Arizona."

The COE found at its March 26-28 meeting that the university's plans still fall short in four of its 11 standards, meaning that students enrolled might not receive the best-quality education that they could. Because of these failures, the COE decided to uphold its decision to deny a letter of reasonable assurance to the school following this appeal, according to a COE release.   

“The Council on Education denied a letter of reasonable assurance to the University of Arizona School of Veterinary Medicine. The council determined that the plan did not provide reasonable assurance that, if implemented, the plan would allow the school to come into compliance with standard 2, Finances; standard 4, Clinical Resources; standard 6, Students; and standard 8, Faculty,” the release states.

UA's initial application for accreditation was denied in June 2016, with the COE finding that UA's plan met only six of the 11 standards. In September the school filed an appeal to that decision, which was discussed in December and finalized at the March 2017 meeting. After this second denial, the appeal process on the initial accreditation application is closed. The COE did reverse its decision on the research standard, meaning that UA now meets seven of 11 standards.

According to section 6.2 of the COE's policy and procedure manual, "a college that fails to be granted reasonable assurance following an evaluation by the COE may not apply for reconsideration for 12 months after the council's initial decision." Under this rule, the 12-month period should technically begin on March 26, 2017, the date of the second decision after appeal. The COE has instead decided that the 12-month period may begin retroactively on June 14, 2016, the initial decision date, the release states. This will allow the school to reapply for accreditation on or after June 14, 2017.

Another component in UA's plan for resubmission is to open a search for a permanent dean of veterinary sciences who will lead UA's efforts to establish a veterinary science faculty and create the curriculum and program for clinical training. An interim dean will be appointed to accelerate the accreditation efforts.

The school of veterinary medicine, once accredited, will be the only public veterinary school in Arizona. The only other veterinary medicine program in the state is at Midwestern University, which is private.

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