Texas Tech University

Economics and Public Policy Expert Joins Texas Tech School of Veterinary Medicine

George Watson

June 10, 2020

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Ryan Williams has served on the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics faculty since 2009.

Building a new veterinary program requires a great team. Not surprisingly, behind the development of the Texas Tech University School of Veterinary Medicine in Amarillo was a collaborative team from across the breadth of the Texas Tech University System. Each team member used their expertise to inform the argument of the need for and the shape of the School of Veterinary Medicine.

Any good team is an inclusive one in which its members know the game plan and how to contribute their expertise toward achieving the goal. For success, the team needed diverse expertise that extended well beyond veterinary medical education. For success, the school needed truly outstanding expertise in the economics of veterinary education and the veterinary profession. It just so happened that Texas Tech has that expert, and he answered the call in 2015.

At that time, Ryan Williams was an assistant professor of economics in the Texas Tech University  College of Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources (CASNR). He led the economic analysis of the veterinary educational and professional need for Texas Tech to start the School of Veterinary Medicine, which was presented to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

"Our school is the success it is because of Ryan," said Guy Loneragan, dean of the School of Veterinary Medicine. "Five years ago, Ryan stepped into a meeting in the Chancellor's conference room – with his shirt untucked – and threw his all into the project. When it comes to the School of Veterinary Medicine, he has so much skin in the game, so to speak. Ryan helped shape the school. I am just so excited he joined the school as we look forward to welcoming the first class in the fall of 2021. It is a privilege to work with someone like Ryan. He typifies the values we hold dear."

Williams is now one of the founding faculty members of the Texas Tech School of Veterinary Medicine as an associate professor of economics and public policy. He began his duties on June 1.

Ryan Williams
Ryan Williams

"The more I evaluated the data, the more convinced I became that if the citizenry of Texas are supporting the education of veterinarians for the good of the people, then a new school with a different approach to training was warranted," Williams said. "Having had the opportunity to be involved with the development of this school from very early in the process, I am thrilled to continue serving the mission the School of Veterinary Medicine represents for Texas Tech University and the state of Texas. I am dedicated to ensuring that, as the school grows, we remain committed to a culture that prioritizes the success of our students and their commitment to community."

Williams has spent the last nine years in the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, the last four years with a joint appointment with the Texas A&M AgriLife Research agency in Lubbock. His research has involved water resources and rural communities and the application of natural resource and environmental economic methodologies to One Health research.

His interest in veterinary medicine stems from when he provided consulting services to the American Veterinary Medical Association. He is interested in investigating the market structure for various veterinary clinic types and exploring consumer demand for veterinary services and the goods and services supported by veterinary services in their supply chains.

Williams, a native of northern California, earned his bachelor's degree from Emory University and his master's degree from North Carolina State University before earning his doctorate in economics from Texas Tech and joining the faculty as a visiting assistant professor in 2009. He also has worked as a financial consultant for Bank of America.

"At the end of the day, veterinary medicine is a business just like other medical health professions," said John Dascanio, senior associate dean for academic and student affairs. "It is extremely important that students understand both personal financial decisions and also that financial decisions within a veterinary practice may affect their ability to practice medicine. The effects of the global economy on veterinary clientele often times dictate medical decisions. Dr. Williams will help to lead our program to integrate financial and economic decision making throughout our program."

Williams becomes the 14th faculty member for the School of Veterinary Medicine. He joins Loneragan, Dascanio, associate dean for clinical programs Britt Conklin, professor of surgery David Dutton, assistant professor of general veterinary practice Bethany Schilling, professor of medicine László Hunyadi, professor of surgery Nancy Zimmerman, visiting professor Jerry Black, associate professor of Library and Information Sciences Howard Rodriguez-Mori, assistant professor of curriculum and assessment Marcelo Schmidt, associate professor of microbiology Jason Fritzler, assistant professor for microbiology Alexandra Calle and associate professor of anatomy Joshua Rowe on the faculty for the School of Veterinary Medicine. Additional faculty members will be added over the summer and fall.

About the School of Veterinary Medicine

Thanks to the generosity of Amarillo and communities across Texas, and the commitment of legislators from around the state, the Texas Tech University School of Veterinary Medicine in Amarillo, established in 2018, is working to enroll its first class in the fall of 2021, pending approval by the AVMA Council on Education.

The School of Veterinary Medicine will recruit and select students with a passion to practice and succeed in rural and regional communities. Its curriculum is focused on the competencies and skills necessary for success in practices that support these communities. Texas Tech's innovative and cost-efficient model partners with the wider community of veterinary practices across the state to provide clinical, real-world experiential learning.

In June 2019, Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law the biennial state budget, which appropriated $17.35 million 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 move forward in establishing the school.