Texas Tech University

Texas Panhandle, Texas Tech Create Natural Partnership for School of Veterinary Medicine

George Watson

February 18, 2019

The Amarillo region leads the state in food and fiber animal production, and the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center’s established excellence strengthens the vision for this collaborative initiative.

When Texas Tech University began developing its vision to create the state's first School of Veterinary Medicine in over a century, the decision of where to build it was pretty simple – Amarillo.

Amarillo emerged as the obvious and natural choice for many reasons. It is the epicenter of the state's and nation's cattle and dairy cattle industry. It is home to the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center's Amarillo campus with nationally ranked health care programs. And it's also a tremendously generous and visionary community.

Need more reasoning? Here is some additional information on why Amarillo makes sense for the School of Veterinary Medicine.

An invested community

The City of Amarillo and Texas Panhandle have demonstrated undeniable backing for this initiative by creating a community of financial support. More than $90 million in non-state funds have been raised for facilities construction and student scholarships.

Dr. Tedd L. Mitchell, Jerry and Margaret Hodge, Lawrence Schovanec

In May 2018, the Amarillo City Council and Amarillo Economic Development Corporation announced an agreement to fund up to $69 million for the building of the veterinary school.

"Our investment in Texas Tech's veterinary school in Amarillo has huge economic implications and enhances educational opportunities for generations to come," Amarillo Mayor Ginger Nelson said. "Amarillo sees the return that will come on this investment and the impact it will have on our region and Texas. We have the determination and drive to make this educational and economic opportunity a reality."

The School of Veterinary Medicine also has received significant philanthropic gifts from myriad local influencers and trailblazers, including:
Jerry and Margaret Hodge
Amarillo National Bank
Caviness Beef Packers
• Happy State Bank
• Cactus Feeders
The Don and Sybil Harrington Foundation

To the heart of the matter

Texas leads the nation in cattle, sheep, goat and mohair production and has the highest number of horses and food and fiber animals in the U.S. The Lone Star State is home to approximately 11.8 million cattle – 13 percent of the nation's cattle inventory. Agriculture accounts for 8.6 percent of the state's gross domestic product, while the economic impact of the Texas food and fiber sector totals more than $100 billion annually.

Sixty-six percent of U.S. agricultural sales are produced by 4 percent of U.S. farms, presenting a demand for specialized veterinarians who can care for herds, prevent the spread of disease and ensure the stability of U.S. food exports. The health and wellbeing of the state's large animal population cannot be maintained effectively by veterinarians from one in-state school.

Feedlots in the United States
Feedlots in the United States

"From the onset of this discussion, the School of Veterinary Medicine has been about addressing a need for the state and especially for rural Texas and the livestock community," said Lawrence Schovanec, Texas Tech president. "Amarillo is the optimal location to have that school. This is about access and opportunity, and the School of Veterinary Medicine in Amarillo will enhance the opportunities for students who want to pursue a veterinary medicine education in the state of Texas and provide better care for the vital livestock industry at its core."

Dairy Cow Concentration
Dairy Cow Concentration in the U.S.

The Texas Panhandle has the highest density of cattle in the country and its concentration of feedlots and dairy farms continues to grow. Roughly 68 percent of Texas' milk production now comes from the Panhandle, up from only 1 percent nearly 40 years ago. Eight of the top 10 dairy counties in Texas are in the Panhandle. Approximately 96 percent of beef on the market in the state comes from the Texas Panhandle. Within a 150-mile radius of Amarillo, there are more than 130 feedlots with more than 2.5 million head of cattle.

Despite this heavy concentration, the nearest veterinary schools are hundreds of miles away. Of the five current veterinary schools closest to Amarillo, four are in different states, and three of those are closer than the lone in-state veterinary school:
• Oklahoma State University – 321 miles from Amarillo
• Kansas State University – 471 miles from Amarillo
• Colorado State University – 497 miles from Amarillo
• Texas A&M University – 514 miles from Amarillo
• University of Missouri – 709 miles from Amarillo

Uniquely positioned

Established resources through the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC) campus in Amarillo give Texas Tech a natural, cost-efficient headquarters with available facilities and a solid foundation for the veterinary school. The School of Veterinary Medicine would be the first of its kind in the nation to be located on a healthcare-dedicated campus with a pharmacy and medical school.

TTUHSC Amarillo
TTUHSC Amarillo

Celebrating its 50th anniversary, TTUHSC has a proven track record of meeting the health care needs of Texans in its 108-county service region. In partnership with TTUHSC, Texas Tech plans to do the same for animals with the School of Veterinary Medicine.

The Amarillo campus of TTUHSC serves more than 43,000 patients each year and plays a vital role in providing the highest quality health care education in the Texas Panhandle with 120 full-time faculty members guiding 492 students in five schools:
School of Medicine
School of Pharmacy
School of Nursing
School of Health Professions
Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences

TTUHSC was created in 1969 to address a critical shortage of physicians in West Texas, where the ratio of doctors to people was approximately 1,350-to-1. That ratio has been cut in half, and TTUHSC now graduates more health care professionals on an annual basis than any other health-related university in the state. Texas Tech aims to take that same approach to veterinary care, applying the same vision and the same passion.

"Texas Tech University and Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center were both founded on the premise of addressing critical needs in our region and state," said Dr. Tedd L. Mitchell, Texas Tech University System chancellor and Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center president. "By partnering with the City of Amarillo and surrounding communities, we will address another vital need with the establishment of the Texas Tech University School of Veterinary Medicine."