COE rejects Arizona vet school proposal

The school will appeal the decision

The University of Arizona’s plan to open the nation’s 31st veterinary school was dealt a severe setback when the Council on Education refused to issue a letter of reasonable assurance of accreditation, UA announced today.

The decision will be appealed, said Shane C. Burgess, Ph.D., the interim dean of the School of Veterinary Medicine.

Council chairman John R. Pascoe, BVSc, Ph.D., Dipl. ACVS, told UA in a letter that the school’s plan fell short on five of the 11 standards that colleges of veterinary medicine are expected to meet. The areas of concern were finances, clinical resources, research, students and faculty.

The council, which operates under the American Veterinary Medical Association, sent representatives to Tucson in January for a site visit. They found that employing 113 faculty members would be inadequate when balancing the “curriculum for the preclinical and clinical programs of the three-year professional program.”

In addition, the council asked for “a more detailed assessment of the proposed financial structure of the school so that the proposed tuition model, which relies heavily on Year 1 undergraduate tuition, demonstrates long-term financial sustainability of the school.”

UA had hoped to admit the first class in fall 2017, two years later than originally planned. A building in suburban Oro Valley has been selected as the clinical training site.

Confident that the school eventually will open, Burgess said renovations in Oro Valley will begin soon and that the nationwide search for a permanent veterinary dean will continue.

UA wants to offer an integrated education model, meaning students would be trained in Tucson and Oro Valley before they utilize their clinical skills at UA facilities across the state.

“We have proposed major innovations so that veterinary medical education can be delivered with less cost to Arizona’s students and their families,” Burgess said. “These kinds of innovations hold great promise for the profession, and we expect the council to be diligent in their review.”

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