The initiative took some major leaps forward thanks to approvals from the State Legislature and Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.
To say 2019 was a significant year for the Texas Tech University School of Veterinary Medicine would be a mountainous understatement.
In fact, 2019 will be viewed in history as the year the school cemented its existence with approval from and funding provided by the State of Texas and the governing body of Texas colleges.
The first major accomplishment for the School of Veterinary Medicine was the biggest. In June, the State Legislature appropriated, and Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law, more than $17 million in the biennial state budget for the School of Veterinary Medicine in Amarillo that will be used to initiate curriculum design and development, faculty recruitment and other processes necessary to attain accreditation of the program.
Three months later, Texas Tech officials put shovels into the dirt outside the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC) in Amarillo, officially breaking ground on the facility and signifying the start of construction on the first new school of veterinary medicine in the state in more than 100 years.
Then, three months after that, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) approved Texas Tech's request to establish a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) program with a major in veterinary medicine, advancing the initiative one step closer to admitting its first class in 2021.
With the dawn of a new decade, Texas Tech and the School of Veterinary Medicine in Amarillo are primed to improve animal care in the state and throughout the world with their innovative approach to veterinary education. The year 2020 will see more great milestones reached in this pursuit, but a look back at 2019 is appropriate to appreciate the historical significance of what has been accomplished thus far.
On June 15, Gov. Abbott signed into law the state budget for the next two years, which included $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.
Donors and civic leaders already have pledged $90 million toward infrastructure and construction of the School of Veterinary Medicine on the site of 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."
Administrators and officials from Texas Tech University and TTUHSC gathered Sept. 19 in an empty field just north of the Amarillo campus to break ground on the Texas Tech University School of Veterinary Medicine, the next milestone that will bring about the state of Texas' first new school of veterinary medicine in more than 100 years.
The turning of dirt symbolized the culmination of years of dedication and hard work that will result in the Texas Tech School of Veterinary Medicine, designed to address the imperative need for rural and large-animal veterinarians. Within two years, Texas Tech expects to enroll its first class of veterinary students who will receive a cost-efficient education through an innovative, world-class curriculum designed to address the critical shortage of veterinarians that is threatening small, regional and agricultural communities throughout the state.
"This groundbreaking celebrates an achievement that symbolizes the best of what can result from cooperation that captures the synergies between education, city and state government, industry and individuals of exceptional vision and generosity," Schovanec said. "Because of the support of so many, the Texas Tech School of Veterinary Medicine will be able to provide students greater access to affordable and innovative education that will prepare them to serve the people of our state, especially those in rural areas, and the large-animal industry that is so important to the state and especially West Texas. This is a proud day for our state, West Texas and Texas Tech."
The THECB on Dec. 11 adopted the recommendation of the Committee on Academic and Workforce Success (CAWS) to approve the request from Texas Tech University for a DVM degree program with a major in veterinary medicine.
This adoption advances Texas Tech's initiative, approved in June as part of the state's biennial budget, to open the School of Veterinary Medicine on the campus of the TTUHSC in Amarillo. The degree program was submitted to the THECB by Texas Tech in February for review and was recommended for approval to the THECB this fall.
"With this approval by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, Texas Tech University is one step closer to increasing veterinary care in West Texas and the state," Schovanec said. "The support of the governor, our local legislators, the civic leaders of Amarillo and the numerous donors who believe in this initiative have led us to this monumental day. Their support will allow Texas Tech to provide an affordable and innovative veterinary education that will enhance the veterinary workforce statewide and service to the large-animal industry and to rural Texas. I also want to express my appreciation to the members of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and all their supporting staff."