The Utah State Legislature approved Utah State University’s proposal to develop the first veterinary program in the state Wednesday, March 9. The bill will now go to Gov. Herbert for his signature.
“This is a significant step for us as we continue our quest to become one of our country’s finest land-grant teaching and research universities,” said USU President Stan Albrecht. “This new program will not only allow us to extend our role in addressing important state needs, but will also buttress other research endeavors on our campus through collaboration with the Utah Science Technology and Research initiative and other USU programs.”
House Bill 57, sponsored by Rep. John Mathis (Vernal), received strong bipartisan support in both the Senate and the House.
The new doctor of veterinary medicine program, which has been in the works for more than three years, creates a partnership between USU and Washington State University. Students in the program will spend the first two years at USU and finish their last two years, including clinical studies, at WSU.
Once signed into law by the governor, the new DVM program will accept 30 students each year — 20 state residents and 10 nonresidents. Following the governor’s signature, the program begins accepting applications in fall 2011 with coursework beginning in 2012.
The program will provide greater opportunity for Utah students interested in veterinary medicine as it was named as one of the 50 best careers of 2011 by U.S. News and World Report.
The state of Utah currently funds three to six students to attend an out-of-state vet school while paying resident tuition. With the creation of the new program, the number of Utah students who pay resident tuition increases to 20. This benefits residents in the state of Utah, as well as significantly increasing the total number of DVM seats nationally.
The support from Utah and its residents has been overwhelming.
“We have gained tremendous support from commodity groups, constituency groups, legislators and residents because they all see the need for increasing the number of practicing vets in the state of Utah,” said Ken White, head of USU’s Animal, Dairy and Veterinary Sciences Department.
WSU’s DVM program boasts an outstanding faculty and one of the top clinical hospitals in the nation, something that students will experience during the last two years of the DVM program. During the first two years of the program at USU, students will have access to a wide variety of large animals. Add state-of-the-art facilities in the Matthew Hillyard building and the new College of Agriculture building, scheduled to be completed in Jan. 2012, and it becomes a strong partnership with excellent opportunities for students, White said.
“Washington State University recognizes the strengths we have at Utah State University, including facilities, faculty and educational opportunities,” said Noelle Cockett, dean of the College of Agriculture. “This partnership will contribute significantly to increased capacity in education, research and outreach at USU. We are appreciative for the support of the Utah legislators in making this dream become a reality, which leverages the significant investments that have occurred recently in the College of Agriculture.”
The program will use $1.7 million of ongoing annual funding from the state for the first and second years. After the program has been established for four years, it will use $3 million of annual ongoing funding, part of which will be used to offset tuition when Utah students are enrolled at WSU during the third and fourth years of the program.
Along with developing new courses for the veterinary students, the Department of Animal, Dairy and Veterinary Sciences will offer additional courses to graduate students who aren’t going into the DVM program. New courses in toxicology, anatomy and physiology will be available to graduate students to expand their expertise in these areas.
“This is a wonderful opportunity to expand the mission and outreach of the ADVS Department, to provide increased access to students with an interest in careers in agriculture and enhance rural development in Utah,” White said.
With the current shortage of rural animal veterinarians in the state, the new program will bring capacity to areas with limited veterinarians. The U.S. Department of Agriculture identified regions in Utah that have a shortage of veterinarians, including Rich, San Juan and Kane counties.
“It’s a great day for agriculture, it’s a great day for the students in agriculture and it’s a wonderful opportunity for Utah State University to expand its mission,” White said.
- USU Animal, Dairy and Veterinary Sciences Department
- Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine
- USU College of Agriculture
Contact: Ken White, 435-797-2162
Writer: Skyler Di Stefano, 435-797-7406