Arkansas State University announced an exploratory partnership with Adtalem Global Education Inc., which operates several nonprofit higher education institutions, to create what may be the only veterinary school in the state.
Kelly Damphousse, PhD, the ASU Chancellor, announced the partnership and a 180-day feasibility study in late January.
“The demand for veterinarians is significant as more households own pets and pet owners in Arkansas acknowledged a shortage of large animal veterinarians,” said Dr. Damphousse in a press release. “This is a concern that our Faculty of Agriculture and others in the region have brought to us. I look forward to starting the discussion on our campus. We plan to work closely with veterinarians across Arkansas to advance the development of this new college. “
The Welcome Center on the Arkansas State University campus. The university has expressed an interest in creating a veterinary school in partnership with Adtalem, a company that operates for-profit higher education institutions, including the Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine. (Courtesy Arkansas State University)
The veterinary school would likely enroll around 120 students per year and apply for accreditation with the AVMA Council on Education. Adtalem, which is also the parent company of the Veterinary School of Ross University in Basseterre, St. Kitts, would provide capital and operating costs to the school.
Donald Kennedy, PhD, interim dean of ag college and professor of animal science, told JAVMA News that the university can study how the public-private partnership would work in 180 days. He said Arkansas would leverage Adtalem’s experience and expertise in veterinary program administration and accreditation, but the university would apply for accreditation and the proposed veterinary college would be on the Arkansas campus in Jonesboro. Graduates from the program would have academic credentials from the state of Arkansas.
“Veterinary schools are expensive to start and run,” said Dr. Kennedy. “This private partnership model gives us the opportunity to overcome the start-up costs. We can use the assets that we can bring to the table. We have built a great relationship with our consultants at Adtalem so far. “
Adtalem, the former DeVry Education Group Inc., was renamed in 2017 after DeVry University paid $ 100 million to settle a lawsuit alleging it had students about their prospects for graduation after graduation Misled. Adtalem sold DeVry University to Cogswell Education in late 2018. The company now has more than nine institutions and companies under its roof.
Dr. Damphousse also announced the creation of a veterinary school task force that will determine the feasibility of the veterinary school. Dr. Kennedy is the chair of the task force.
“We know from practical experience that more veterinarians, especially large animal practitioners, are needed in our region and in our state,” said Dr. Kennedy in the press release. “With the current resources Arkansas can bring to this process, we believe we can have a tremendous positive impact on the veterinary profession and our agribusiness.”
The Arkansas Farm Bureau, an organization of 190,000 farmers and ranchers, sponsored a veterinary school in the state and recently published an annual report highlighting the need for great veterinarians in the area.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, the state has six designated veterinarian emergency situations. Three positions are at the Arkansas Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory in Little Rock; The others are for private animal practitioners near Ash Flat, Jasper, and Prescott.
“I want to emphasize that we are at the beginning,” said Dr. Damphousse. “In addition to chairing our task force, I asked Dr Kennedy to help select participants and encourage them to come back later this year with a recommendation.”
Arkansas does not have a veterinary school in the state. However, through the Board of Control for Southern Regional Education, contracts for nine seats at Louisiana State University were negotiated. Agreements have also been made with the University of Missouri and Oklahoma State University.
Arkansas studied the creation of a veterinary program nearly a decade ago. In 2011, Arkansas state legislature passed law authorizing the Southern Arkansas University Board of Trustees to design and establish a school of veterinary medicine. it has not appropriated any money. That same year, state lawmakers approved the Veterinary Education Repayment Program. It was designed to help repay federal student loans for up to five years for eligible veterinarians who attended the Mississippi State University Veterinary College and who practiced food veterinary medicine in Arkansas. However, this program is currently not funded.