NCSU drives equine program to next level


Visionaries of North Carolina State University's equine program plan to enhance its user-friendly status to compete with well-renowned academic players in Colorado and California.

Visionaries of North Carolina State University's equine program planto enhance its user-friendly status to compete with well-renowned academicplayers in Colorado and California.

The equine component needs a new public image, declares Dr. Oscar Fletcher,Ph.D., dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine, which houses the equineprogram.

"What I envision is a better way to link our faculty to horse ownersand referring veterinarians," he says. "We need to know the kindsof issues that need research emphasis. We think we have a handle on that,(but) we need verification. We need to be able to translate the resultsof our research back into use by the people who need it."

At the start of the year, Fletcher appointed Dr. Richard Mansmann ona part-time basis to a newly-created post as director of the updated EquineHealth Program.

His directive is to improve communications between veterinary facultyand the horse-owner clientele in North Carolina and its surrounding region.

Fletcher says under Mansmann's leadership the College plans to "repackage"equine programs already installed and add new components, such as additionalcontinuing education offerings for veterinarians and laypersons.

Untapped gold mine

The North Carolina horse industry easily accounts for $400 to $450 million,according to Fletcher.

Translate those financials into an opportunity for NCSU, he says. "Froma standpoint of who's the customer and where is the opportunity, we havea lot of horse owners in the state - there's a great opportunity we needto meet," he says.

Mansmann's vision as director will be to help classify NCSU's equinecomponent among the big-name horse programs at University of California,Davis, Colorado State University and the University of Pennsylvania.

"Among veterinary schools we're trying to position ourselves a littlebit higher profile than we've been in the past," Fletcher says.

Down the road

In the immediate future, school planners are brainstorming to raise funds.Thus far, the CVM has tapped existing budgets to fund the equine programrestructuring.

"We're in a quiet phase of the campaign right now. We're takingbaby steps to increase our visibility and enlarge our donor pool. By increasingawareness, we can increase private contributions to the program as wellas other potential sources of support for research and education,"says Fletcher.

School officials have already earmarked $30 million to renovate the existingNCSU veterinary teaching hospital. An estimated $10 to $12 million of thatmay be designated toward the equine health program, Fletcher confirms.

Bursting at seams

The referral hospital, which treats small animals and equine, has grownby about 30 percent since 1997, creating space and structural limitationswithin existing facilities, Fletcher says.

That said, an enhanced and expanded equine health program can immediatelyprovide relief to referring veterinarians.

"This would make it easier for them to get cases admitted, we couldrespond quicker to the demand and we could perhaps expand services to improvediagnostics and treatment," he says.

Mansmann was unavailable for comment.

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