The University of Arizona has postponed for at least one year the opening of what would become the nation’s 31st veterinary college.
Arizona last fall received the go-ahead from the state Board of Regents to launch the Veterinary Medical and Surgical Program this August.
However, according to a statement posted on the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences website, the Council on Education, which accredits U.S. schools of veterinary medicine, will not inspect the Tucson campus and satellite facilities until next year.
“We were disappointed to learn recently that the American Veterinary Medical Association has decided not to schedule a site visit for us until Jan. 24 to 28, 2016,” the university reported. “This means we cannot begin the full program in August 2015 as we had hoped. The AVMA’s decision means we must delay our targeted program start to August 2016.”
The AVMA Council on Education has a dozen comprehensive site visits scheduled in 2015, including stops at two schools that opened last year: Midwestern University in Glendale, Ariz., and Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, Tenn.
The delay hasn’t shaken confidence in Arizona’s ability to construct a veterinary school using pre-existing and new facilities.
“We’re going to break the mold and create the first of a [new] generation of veterinary education programs designed for the 21st century,” said coordinator Bonnie Buntain, DVM, Dipl. ABVP, Dipl. ACVPM.
Student applications will be accepted starting in the spring of 2016.
“We want to attract exceptional people interested in all careers that DVM’s can have, such as the exploding bioscience economy, global commerce in animals and their products, retail, biomedicine and public health, as well as typical practice,” Dr. Buntain said.
Arizona, like Lincoln Memorial, will do without a teaching hospital. Students instead will be sent to participating clinics, satellite locations and government agencies to learn and practice clinical skills. The distributive education model saves money and will allow Arizona to charge lower tuition, which Buntain said is critical.
“We will at least halve the cost of a DVM education compared to other public programs, and quarter the cost compared with private programs, all while increasing educational content by almost 40 percent,” she said.
Among the four satellite locations is the Ames Animal Care Facility in Douglas, Ariz., which the university purchased in December. The building serves as an animal shelter for Douglas and Cochise County.