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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    UA gets funding for new veterinary program

    Rebecca Marie Sansett

    Animal sciences senior Rachel Williams does a routine grooming on the UA Equine Center’s horse Sheza Lopin Deelite, 18, at the center on Wednesday. The new Kemper and Ether Marley Foundation Veterinary Medicine and Surgical Program was made possible through a $9 million gift from the Kemper and Ethel Marley Foundation.

    The UA should expect to see the first incoming class of veterinary medicine students on campus this upcoming fall. A recent gift of $9 million from the Kemper and Ethel Marley Foundation provided the necessary start-up funds to make this Arizona dream a reality.

    While tuition costs for out-of-state veterinary medicine programs have risen, Arizona public funding from the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education has not, said Elaine Marchello, assistant dean for undergraduate education at the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and a veterinary science professor. “Where we used to be able to fund 22 students to go [to out-of-state veterinary medicine schools],” Marchello said, “we are down to funding nine, because the money just does not stretch as far.”

    When Shane Burgess, vice provost and CALS dean, joined the UA in 2011, the dream to open a public veterinary medicine program for Arizona was resurrected, Marchello said. Attempts have been made in the past to convince the state legislature to procure funds; however, the donation from the foundation made the program possible.

    “The [foundation’s] money is going to be used for two different areas,” Burgess said about the Kemper and Ethel Marley Foundation Veterinary Medicine and Surgical Program. “First, we will be building or establishing, purchasing or renovating, four facilities around the state in Douglas, Yuma, Verde Valley and Pinal County [with a third of the money]. … The other two-thirds will be endowed and will provide scholarships to enable students to get through [the program] with lower debt.”

    The program follows a distributive learning model, Marchello said. This will allow for students in their final year to do their clinical rotations in the community, which allows them to get more hands-on, one-on-one experience than they ever would in a teaching hospital.

    Students can graduate as a doctor of veterinary medicine in as little as four years without having a bachelor’s degree, Marchello said. They will first enter a pre-professional phase for at least one year and take prerequisite courses. Those who do well can apply for the professional phase of the veterinary medicine program, while the others who are not accepted can continue in the current bachelor of science veterinary program and apply again in the future.

    “Based on national averages, we could be talking about as many as 1500 students that could be applying [for the first year pre-professional phase],” Burgess said.

    However, the program will accept 100 students into the professional track for the first graduating class, Burgess said.
    The program models foreign veterinary medicine programs, Burgess explained, and the program will be one-of-a-kind in the U.S. Burgess added that the program may have the ability to change the education of veterinary medicine throughout the country.

    The veterinary medicine program still needs to pass a final inspection from the American Veterinary Medical Association for accreditation in order to accept students for next fall, Burgess said.

    “[We are creating a program] to keep up with the 21st century,” Burgess said. “I am really excited that we will be focusing this program on what Arizona needs and having a program that can change with Arizona’s changing needs.”

    —Follow John McMullen @DailyWildcat

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