Culminating a seven-year plan, The Texas A&M University System today announced partnerships to expand veterinary education, research and undergraduate outreach into several regions of the state through four A&M System universities.
The partnerships are between the Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM) and West Texas A&M University, Prairie View A&M University, Texas A&M University-Kingsville and Tarleton State University.
In 2009, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board reported there was no need for a second veterinary school but that CVM could increase enrollment to meet future state needs. The study focused on the need to increase the number of underrepresented minorities entering the profession as well as enlarging the pipeline of rural-based veterinarians to better serve the livestock industry as well as deer and wildlife interests.
In response, the Texas A&M System began beefing up its agriculture programs at the four universities while planning a state-of-the-art veterinary teaching complex at College Station. With no state appropriation available for construction during the recession, Texas A&M invested $120 million from the Permanent University Fund.
The teaching complex, which opens this fall, allows CVM to accept more veterinary students and create the partnerships to encourage more underrepresented minorities and rural students, who are more likely to return to their home regions, to work as veterinarians in the state’s agricultural economy.
“Texas agriculture feeds and clothes the country,” said Chancellor John Sharp. “We will always need small-animal veterinarians to take care of our pets, but we also need more large-animal veterinarians helping to protect our state’s agricultural economy.”
All four of the A&M System un
iversities have significant underrepresented minority student populations as well as unique animal science programs and ties to the livestock or wildlife industries in their regions:
- West Texas A&M operates its own feedlot in the Panhandle, a region that feeds a third of the nation’s beef and boasts expanding dairy and swine industries. The Beef Carcass Research Center and the Nance Ranch Teaching and Research Facility are located there.
- Tarleton State operates the state’s only university-based dairy as a public-private partnership and collaborates regularly with the dairy cattle industry. The university also has a Veterinary Technology program.
- Prairie View A&M’s International Goat Research Center, with more than 1,000 dairy and meat goats, is one of the largest, oldest goat research programs in the nation. It specializes in the areas of genetics, reproductive physiology, nutrition and veterinary health.
- Texas A&M-Kingsville’s Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute is the leading wildlife research organization in Texas. It also has a Veterinary Technology program with a new state-of-the-art facility.
“This initiative is ultimately about service to our state,” said Texas A&M University President Michael Young. “It extends the reach of our highly-ranked College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences while also putting the prospect of a veterinary education on the radar of more students throughout Texas.”
Opening the new CVM teaching complex is key to extending the reach of veterinary education and research beyond College Station. While the state’s population has boomed, the size of the veterinary school remained virtually flat due to older, cramped facilities. The new facility will allow the CVM to meet the need for both the veterinary and livestock industries as the demand for veterinarians grows.
The new education complex will easily accommodate an initial increased class size of 20 to 30 new veterinary students each year. By providing new learning opportunities for students who attend the four A&M System universities, the CVM hopes to increase the number of applicants from those regions.
Toward that goal, the CVM intends to hire veterinary faculty initially to teach undergraduate courses, strengthen the curriculum and explore research partnerships with industry in each region. Eventually, as demand increases, the CVM will evaluate the need to offer some veterinary courses at sites other than College Station.
The CVM is in the process of hiring two faculty members to teach and conduct research at West Texas A&M. It also will be seeking appropriations to duplicate those efforts at Tarleton State, Prairie View A&M and Texas A&M-Kingsville.
This cost-effective, graduated approach to expanding veterinary education leverages the state’s assets to their highest and best use while being mindful of Texas taxpayers and following the guidance of the Coordinating Board study.
“The Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences has served animal owners in Texas and beyond for 100 years,” said Dr. Eleanor M. Green, the Carl B. King dean of veterinary medicine. “We intend to expand our ability to respond to the needs of our diverse populations and to the needs of the veterinary profession by linking the vast strengths of Texas A&M across the state. This program puts boots on the ground where they are needed, as they are needed.”