State Panel Approves A-State Plan for Veterinary College

State Panel Approves A-State Plan for Veterinary College
An aerial view of the Arkansas State University campus in Jonesboro (Photo provided by A-State)

The Arkansas Higher Education Coordinating Board has approved Arkansas State University's plan to establish a veterinary college, the school announced Friday.

The plan includes as many as 40 new faculty and staff positions at the college. Also approved was A-State's proposed program of study for the college and individual program requirements and courses. The university has named Glen Hoffsis, a former veterinary college dean at The Ohio State University and the University of Florida, as the college's founding dean.

In a news release, A-State said its next step is to submit its plan to the American Veterinary Medical Association for national accreditation.

Arkansas does not have a veterinary college, but A-State's is one of two in development.  Lyon College in November received state approval to offer a veterinary medicine degree and is pursuing national accreditation. Pending approval, Lyon's inaugural classes could start as early as 2024 or 2025.

In a statement, A-State Chancellor Todd Shields said the school's veterinary college will help address a statewide shortage of professionals in the field.

“Over and over we hear about the need for more veterinarians to fill the growing need for companion pet care and the agricultural industry across our state,” he said. “We have been fortunate to have great input from our campus and guidance from our inaugural dean as well as other consultants to formulate a plan that is responsive to the needs of the veterinary community and economical for our future students.

"Above all, we want to make it possible for Arkansans in particular to stay home for their [Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree] and establish their practices right here in our state."

A-State plans to spread out the startup costs for the college over several years through a combination of philanthropy and internal funds. Ongoing costs will be supported by student tuition. The university expects 120 students in each cohort, with inaugural classes projected to begin in 2025.

Annual tuition for Arkansas residents was proposed at $17,000 per semester, with out-of-state student cost at $27,000 per semester. The cost of attending the college would be well below the in-state national average of $34,289 and the out-of-state average of $55,158, according to the American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges.

The university in Jonesboro plans to utilize existing space on campus for classroom instruction. It will also renovate facilities on the A-State Research and Instructional Farm while it makes final evaluations for the need and design of a potential College of Veterinary Medicine building. Officials have discussed the potential to issue a bond for construction, but by the time architectural renderings are complete, there may be additional sources of funding available.

A-State previously estimated that the college would require initial equipment and facility investment costs of $15 million.

“We believe we have a great plan and are assembling a great team for our proposed college,” Shields said. “Obviously specific financial points may vary based on how the economy is going and what it cost to purchase equipment or refit facilities.”

A-State announced in January that it was moving forward with the veterinary college after nearly three years of delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Calvin White Jr., university provost, said A-State is poised to become the only public university where graduate faculty, major biological research facilities, a medical school and a veterinary college can collaborate on the same campus.

"We’ve had a tremendous team effort to reach this point," White said in the news release. "I know that creating our own College of Veterinary Medicine not only gives students a chance to stay home and choose A-State, it also creates great interdisciplinary opportunities among our current and future faculty to collaborate on research."

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