USU looks toward professional veterinary school on campus

In Utah there is one veterinarian for every 6,000 people, which is why Ken White, department head of animal, dairy and veterinary sciences (ADVS), is thrilled to see Utah’s first professional veterinary school established at USU. USU administrators are aiming to have the post-undergraduate program ready to accept applications this semester and start classes in the fall of 2011. The program has been made possible by partnering with Washing State University’s (WSU) veterinary school, so students will take their first two years of vet school at USU and the following two at WSU, said associate professor Tom Baldwin, who is also director of the Utah Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory. “The importance of animal agriculture are driving forces here to establish a center of expertise in veterinary medicine,” Baldwin said. “We have counties in Utah where there are no veterinarians that practice large animal or food animal medicine.” There will be 20 slots open to pre-veterinary students studying in Utah and 10 for those studying out of Utah, White said. Facilities, equipment and knowledgeable faculty are already in place at USU, White said, which makes it a prime location for this type of professional school and makes the program less expensive than it would be to create one from the ground up at another Utah school. Noelle Cockett, dean of the College of Agriculture, said the next step in building this program is securing funding from the Utah legislature, which is currently in process. “With the ever-increasing costs of professional education, we just place fewer and fewer kids, and that has repercussions down the road,” Baldwin said. White said six new faculty members will be hired to incorporate their expertise into the program, while at least seven of USU’s current ADVS faculty and staff will be used to teach the program requirements.

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