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UA Chooses Oro Valley for Vet School

First-year students would take classes in Tucson before moving to a clinical training facility in a northern suburb.

The University of Arizona wants to turn a building in Oro Valley into veterinary classrooms, laboratories and exam rooms. Standing outside are, from left, university senior vice president Kimberly Andrews Espy, veterinarian Michael Ames, college Dean Shane Burgess, university President Ann Weaver Hart and Oro Valley Mayor Satish Hiremath.

John de Dios/UANews

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The University of Arizona plans to spend $8 million to convert a 33,000-square-foot building in suburban Tucson into the primary home of the new Veterinary Medical and Surgical Program.

Veterinary students would spend their first year on the Tucson campus and in later years travel 13 miles north to Oro Valley for classes and clinical training.

Arizona hopes to open the nation’s 31st veterinary school in August 2016 but is awaiting a site visit in January from the accreditation-awarding Council on Education.

Renovation of the Oro Valley building, scheduled to open in 2017, is on hold until the state approves the funds, program spokeswomen Bethany Rutledge said.

The university-owned location is close to Innovation Park, the home to bioscience companies such as Sanofi and Ventana Medical Systems. The choice was important, administrators said during an announcement Monday, because the veterinary school intends to emphasize One Health, a concept tying together animal and human health.

“The University of Arizona Oro Valley campus will serve to integrate programs related to veterinary and human medicine, public health, social sciences, ecological and environmental sciences, all focused on addressing today’s complex health challenges,” said UA President Ann Weaver Hart, MA, Ph.D.

Some of the hands-on training that veterinary students do will take place at partner hospitals and other locations under the program’s distributive education model.

“The University of Arizona veterinary medical education program promises to be rigorous and unique among American programs,” said Shane Burgess, Ph.D., dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

The DVM program has been promoted as one that will save students both time and money.

“Students will be able to start as soon as they have their prerequisites and attend year-round,” Burgess said. “Both translate into reduced costs and a faster time to degree, putting graduates in the workforce sooner.”

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