The Student News Site of University of Arizona

The Daily Wildcat

Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Vet School accreditation denial ‘the latest chapter in the 45-year process’


A look at the site of the proposed veterinary school in Oro Valley on Saturday, Aug. 20. UA is currently working to appeal the American Veterinary Medical Association Council for Education’s rejection of its vet school proposals.

The UA’s plans to open a veterinary school were stalled last month when the American Veterinary Medical Association Council for Education, which accredits veterinary schools, rejected the UA’s proposal.

The project recently received $8 million of funding from state tax payers, and will be located at 1580 E. Hanley Blvd. The money is being spent to renovate and build classrooms, laboratories and veterinary operating suites in the 33,000 square-foot space.

With the school’s failure to get accreditation, plans to get the new program up and running have been put on hold. A notice of “intent to appeal” was sent to the AVMA on Aug. 8.

The UA now has 30 days to prepare the documents for the appeal and from there the AVMA has 120 days to set an appeal date, but after that, the timeline is less clear.

“I don’t want to second guess this process,” said Shane C. Burgess, interim dean of the School of Veterinary Medicine. “This is just step one in a multi-step process.”

This multi-step process has been ongoing for years, according to Burgess, who said the school has records of discussing opening a veterinary school at the UA in 1951.

RELATED: UA’s Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree program moves to Oro Valley

Burgess said the process officially began in 1971, and has been ongoing ever since.

“We are just the latest chapter in the 45-year process,” Burgess said. “If this process takes another chapter, we’re going to see it through. We’ve gotten so far down the path now, and somebody has got to make these changes and we’re going to be the ones doing it.”

The AVMA’s notification letter cited failure to comply to a number of standards needed to obtain accreditation, stating that “the Council found that the school’s plan, when implemented, will not permit the school to be in compliance.”

The standards mentioned were those of finances, clinical resources, students, faculty and research.

It is not unique for a veterinary school to be denied accreditation on the first try, according to Burgess.

He said that after legal counsel from both the UA Office of General Council and external legal counsel, the UA is appealing on the grounds that they have met the standards set forth by the AMVA.

UA President Ann Weaver Hart supports both the UA’s appeal and the plans laid out for school once it finally is up and running.

“The UA has provided a detailed plan for a novel year-round veterinary medical program that will provide a faster path to a DVM degree for less money,” Hart said in a UA news release. “We will demonstrate that we have addressed all of [the accreditor’s] concerns. We are absolutely committed to earning AVMA accreditation.”

Despite the hopefulness that the appeal will go through, there is still a long road ahead with the appeals process, which Burgess said will cost tens of thousands of dollars—money that will come primarily from philanthropy.

RELATEDRegents approve UA’s proposed $1.1 billion budget

While the building itself will be ready to be used one year from now, no one is expecting the program to be ready to go.

Burgess said he wants students to be able to do this master’s program as soon as possible.

“My job is to get this up and running for the people of Arizona,” Burgess said. “I’m very disappointed for our students. Arizona is the worst place to come from if you want to be a veterinarian, by far. Every single one of our students either pays private tuition or out-of-state tuition, which is the same as private tuition.”

Burgess said he hopes that the new veterinary school, once it has cleared all of the hurdles currently standing in its way, will be a resource for students to get a good education and graduate with significantly less debt.

“We’ve got to provide pathways of success for people and that’s what we’re doing,” Burgess said.

Follow Leah Merrall on Twitter.

More to Discover
Activate Search