Right now, Texas has only one veterinary school – at Texas A&M University in College Station. But that’s about to change. For years, state and local advocates have pushed to establish another school, and now, Texas Tech University is set start its own after Gov. Greg Abbott signed off on $17 million for the project.
Guy Loneragan, dean of Texas Tech’s School of Veterinary Medicine, says the movement to establish a vet school there has been going on since the 1970s, but that it gained momentum especially in the last five years. Part of what took so long was coordinating the funding – not opposition from Texas A&M like some may assume.
“Opposition to a secondary vet school is relatively minor and it was really from a relatively small segment of the community,” Loneragan says. “On the whole, there was a large degree of support for the program.”
Loneragan says Texas Tech will set its program apart by having a more narrow focus than A&M’s.
“Our focus really is to produce veterinarians that go in and serve the small agricultural and regional communities all across Texas,” Loneragan says.
He says Texas Tech also wants to make veterinary education more affordable.
And Tech won’t just be training more large-animal veterinarians, even though they’re needed. Loneragan says people in rural communities also need vets to care for their pets, or to work in the food industry and more.
“We need to produce veterinarians that will go into the Del Rios, and Eagle Pass, or Victorias, West Texas, Central Texas, and they might do food animal work, they might do equine, they might do mixed-animal or small animal,” Loneragan says. “The key is that we graduate veterinarians that go into these communities and become part of these communities.”
Texas Tech will break ground on the new school in Amarillo either later this summer or in the early fall. The $17 million will go toward everything involved in graduating the first class of students.
“That means hiring faculty, get through accreditation, work out the details of the curriculum and get ready for the first class, which we anticipate … for the fall of 2021,” Loneragan says.
Written by Caroline Covington.