(VIDEO) Startup funds were appropriated and legislative authority was provided in the biennial state budget signed into law by Gov. Abbott on Saturday.
Texas Tech University System officials today (June 17) recognized all who played a part in helping secure funding from the Texas Legislature that will help establish the Texas Tech University School of Veterinary Medicine, a first for the State of Texas in more than a century.
On Saturday (June 15), Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law the state budget for the next two years, which includes $17.35 million appropriated for the School of Veterinary Medicine in Amarillo that will go toward operational needs in order to get the school up and running. The appropriation included language directing Texas Tech to use funds to initiate curriculum design and development, faculty recruitment and other processes necessary to attain accreditation of the program.
Donors and civic leaders already have pledged $90 million toward infrastructure and construction of the School of Veterinary Medicine on the site of Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC) in Amarillo.
"The Texas Tech School of Veterinary Medicine represents a historic opportunity to serve the needs of our state, and reflects the efforts of many people, who recognized a significant veterinary need in Texas and supported this important initiative," said Lawrence Schovanec, Texas Tech President. "The support for the School of Veterinary Medicine by Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Speaker Dennis Bonnen, and the Texas Legislature, will enable Texas Tech University to enhance opportunities for students in Texas seeking careers as veterinarians. We are particularly grateful for the leadership of our Lubbock delegation, including Sen. Charles Perry and Reps. Dustin Burrows and John Frullo, for their leadership and their commitment to this important cause that benefits not only West Texas, but our entire state."
The Texas Tech School of Veterinary Medicine in Amarillo will offer innovative, world-class curriculum to address the critical shortage of veterinarians, which is threatening small, regional and agricultural communities throughout Texas. It is a cost-efficient school that will attract students with a passion for rural veterinary care and graduate career-ready veterinarians to serve the state and its multi-billion-dollar agriculture industry.
"This was one of the most consequential legislative sessions in the history of Texas Tech and the Texas Tech University System," said Tedd L. Mitchell, Texas Tech University System chancellor and president of the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center.
"Securing legislative backing for the new Texas Tech veterinary school in Amarillo was made possible by countless groups and individuals who committed a tremendous amount of time, energy and passion to achieve this historic milestone. We thank Gov. Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Speaker Dennis Bonnen and all members of the Legislature – particularly our West Texas delegation – for supporting this important priority. I also wish to thank everyone who played a part in this success."
Texas Tech's model will recruit and select students who will most likely practice and succeed in rural communities and utilize a curriculum focused on the competencies and skills necessary to be successful in a rural practice. Also, in order to keep student debt down, the model eliminates the need for a costly teaching hospital and, instead, places veterinary students in cooperative rural practices to provide clinical learning through collaboration.
"Amarillo and Texas Tech have long been partners in the mission of serving the needs of this region and providing much-needed education and care for our citizens," said Amarillo Mayor Ginger Nelson. "Legislative approval of the Texas Tech University School of Veterinary Medicine is arguably the most impactful initiative for Amarillo in decades, and it will have ripple effects felt statewide. We look forward to all the opportunities that will come from this veterinary school and strengthened partnership."
The School of Veterinary Medicine anticipates opening in the fall of 2021 and will enroll a target class size of 60 students as well as providing opportunities for other professional students.
With the crucial startup funding and legislative guidance secure, the School of Veterinary Medicine's professional degree program must receive approval from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB). The Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree program was submitted to the THECB in February and is currently under review, with a decision anticipated within the next 6-8 months.