New university programs to focus on rural veterinary practice

Arkansas State University may soon be home to the state’s first veterinary medicine school.

University officials have signed an agreement with Adtalem Global Education, an operator of for-profit higher education institutions, to explore the possibility of opening a veterinary school, according to ASU Chancellor Kelly Damphousse. Adtalem, formerly DeVry Education Group, is the parent company of Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine, which is accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association.

The two institutions are considering a public-private partnership, in which Adtalem would provide expertise in veterinary program and accreditation, as well as capital and operating expense funding.

The proposed program, for which the university would seek accreditation, would enroll classes of about 120 students each year.

“From practical experience, we know the need exists for more veterinarians, especially large animal practitioners, across our region and state,” said Donald Kennedy, professor of animal science and interim dean in the university’s agriculture college. “With the current resources that Arkansas State can bring to this process, we believe we can have a tremendous positive impact for the veterinarian profession and our agricultural industry.”

South Dakota students also have a new opportunity to study veterinary medicine, through a new collaboration between South Dakota State University and the University of Minnesota.

The two institutions have formed a “Professional Program in Veterinary Medicine” focusing on rural practices. Admitted students will be able to spend their first two years at SDSU and their final two years at the University of Minnesota. They’ll end up with a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

“I’m very excited to be back at SDSU to continue all the great work that has been done thus far to create this new collaborative veterinary program,” said Gary Gackstetter, director of the professional program at SDSU. “I’m convinced we can make a positive difference in South Dakota agriculture and animal health by training those students interested in rural clinical practice.”

The first 20-student cohort is expected to begin classes at SDSU in August 2021. The program is approved by the AVMA, which has also approved the expansion of the University of Minnesota’s graduating class from 105 to 125 students.