(VIDEO) The achievement represents another significant step in bringing the first veterinary school in Texas in more than a century to reality.
After carefully considering the Texas Tech University School of Veterinary Medicine's detailed plan to meet the Standards of Accreditation, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) Council on Education (COE) has issued the school a Letter of Reasonable Assurance. This historic milestone allows the school to begin the application process to admit its inaugural class. With this achievement, the school remains on track, on time and on budget.
The School of Veterinary Medicine has developed and will now implement its strategic plan to address the veterinary service and educational needs of rural and regional communities across Texas. This multi-pronged strategy begins with targeted recruitment and a mission-focused admissions process. The school will begin with an inaugural class of approximately 60 students in fall 2021.
"A talented, committed and focused team made this amazing accomplishment possible," said Guy Loneragan, dean of the School of Veterinary Medicine. "This team extended well beyond the school, and well beyond our wonderful university. It included whole communities, veterinarians from across Texas, our legislative delegation and so many more. Today, we celebrate a shared success.
"The school now has a lot of work to do, but it is exciting work, and it is work that everyone is itching to sink their teeth into simply because it means that, after all these years of planning, we now finally get to meet and start teaching the very first class of students of the School of Veterinary Medicine at Texas Tech. That is indeed something that is incredibly special."
Reasonable assurance simply means that if the school follows its detailed plan, the AVMA-COE has reasonable assurance it will meet the Standards of Accreditation. The AVMA-COE grants the school the status of Provisional Accreditation on the date the school sends out letters of acceptance to its first class, which means the students who matriculate into the program do so into an accredited School of Veterinary Medicine. Once the inaugural class takes the national licensing exam in its final year, the status of Accredited will be granted as long as the school effectively demonstrates it is meeting the Standards of Accreditation.
This summer, a specially trained investigative team from the AVMA-COE conducted an in-depth, fact-finding site visit to the School of Veterinary Medicine to assess Texas Tech's detailed plan, its ability to execute that plan and the likelihood of that plan meeting the Standards of Accreditation in order to ensure the delivery of a quality veterinary education. The full AVMA-COE then reviewed the School of Veterinary Medicine's detailed plans and the investigative team's report. The AVMA-COE confirmed the likelihood of the school meeting the Standards of Accreditation if it follows its plan, and subsequently issued the Letter of Reasonable Assurance.
The School can now begin the admission process. Orientation for the inaugural class of veterinary students begins in early August of 2021.
Texas Tech initiated plans to develop a veterinary medical educational program in 1971. After decades of false starts, a concerted and community-based approach began in earnest in 2014 and was publicly announced in 2015. Toward this effort, $90 million was raised from more than 30 individuals, foundations and the Amarillo Economic Development Corporation for the school's infrastructure. Then, in 2019, the Texas legislature appropriated, and Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law the biennial state budget, giving Texas Tech $17.4 million begin the steps necessary to start the program. Texas Tech has delivered on its charge.
"Today, future veterinarians throughout Texas officially have another opportunity to pursue their dreams within the borders of our state," said Lawrence Schovanec, Texas Tech president. "When we announced our pursuit of the School of Veterinary Medicine in 2015, we knew the model we were presenting would be a great benefit to our great state's future, and so many people, communities, and community and state leaders believed in what we were doing. I am proud of the efforts of so many within our campus community and the external partnerships that helped Texas Tech arrive to today. I am also excited for the many students who will benefit from an additional in-state veterinary education."
Since ground was broken on the facility in Amarillo more than a year ago, construction of the Amarillo Campus and Mariposa Station facilities has progressed on schedule. The state-of-the-art facilities have been designed hand in hand with development of the curriculum. Texas Tech has developed a team of approximately 30 outstanding faculty and staff members and is in the process of adding additional faculty and staff to its growing team.
The 185,000-square-foot, two-story Amarillo Campus consists of two wings. The East Wing includes classrooms, student support services and breakout rooms, and faculty and staff offices. The West Wing includes teaching laboratories on the ground floor and advanced research laboratories on the second floor. The two wings are connected by a lobby that serves as the entry to the building and a place for those at the school to gather and hold events. Mariposa Station is designed to support the instructional and research needs related to farm animals.
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 School of Veterinary Medicine, established in 2018, will implement its plan to admit students with a passion to serve 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.