The Higher Learning Commission's Institutional Actions Council has given initial approval to Lyon College's request to offer Doctor of Medical Dentistry and Doctor of Veterinary Medicine professional degrees.
The regional accreditor also approved the Batesville college's plan to open a branch campus in Little Rock to house the dentistry and veterinary medicine programs, which would be the state's first. Lyon announced in May that it was acquiring Heifer International's 28-acre campus downtown, which includes a 94,000-SF building
Melissa Taverner, president of the private liberal arts college, said the approval is a "major milestone." The college's next step is to complete and submit initial applications for professional accreditation to the Commission on Dental Accreditation of the American Dental Association and the Council on Education of the American Veterinary Medical Association. Lyon plans to submit those applications in early 2023.
"Work on the dental and veterinary programs continues to move forward, and Lyon College will provide updates as subsequent steps in developing the Institute of Health Sciences are achieved," Taverner said in a news release.
Lyon announced this month that it will partner with UAMS on the project. The two entities signed an agreement to identify opportunities for joint teaching, research, graduate education and professional development for Lyon's dental school.
The Higher Learning Commission also signed off on Lyon's requests to offer a bachelor's in nursing, distance education courses and programs, a change in mission to offer graduate degrees, and a master's in teaching. Those programs will be offered at the Batesville campus. The next stages of development include preparing instructional plans and finalizing admissions processes.
"It is wonderfully exciting to see Lyon College add its first new degrees in many decades," Kurt Grafton, college provost, said in the release. "It speaks to the spirit of innovation and hard work that our faculty and staff bring to the campus every day as we make the Lyon experience ever more relevant and impactful.
"I am personally very much looking forward to watching these programs expand and produce graduates who will make lasting positive impacts on their communities and in the state of Arkansas for many years to come."