In one corner: Texas A&M, whose College of Veterinary Medicine is in the top five nationwide and has trained generations of animal doctors.
In the other corner: upstart Texas Tech, exploring the possibility of launching a new veterinarian doctoral training school in Amarillo to meet demand.
But now A&M appears to have decided it’s not willing to concede west Texas to Tech. A&M is announcing plans for a new veterinary complex at West Texas A&M in Canyon. Is this turning into a battle of university titans?
“A&M is planning to put a $90 million initiative into veterinarian and ag undergraduate studies at West Texas A&M. They’re in Canyon. But it is 15 miles away from a proposed Texas Tech veterinarian doctoral program in Amarillo,” says Jay Leeson, a columnist for the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, the host of “Other Side of Texas” on KRFE, and a Texas Tech alumnus.
Ten years ago, Leeson says, there was an informal partnership between Texas A&M and Texas Tech on training veterinary doctors, but Texas A&M has steadily backed away from that.
In 2009, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board reported a shortage of large animal veterinarians in the state. “It was at that point that A&M decided that they would put $120 million worth of PUF money – Permanent University Funds – into a new vet teaching complex at A&M” says Leeson. “They went forward and they opened that complex in 2016.”
In December 2015, Texas Tech proposed a plan for a doctoral veterinary medicine training program at its Amarillo campus.
The Higher Education Coordinating Board reported a continuing shortage of large animal veterinarians. Leeson says that demand spurred what he calls a “cold war of higher education dollars.”
Given the amount of ranching and agriculture in all parts of the state, perhaps two doctoral veterinary medicine programs could be supported – one at Texas Tech in Amarillo and one at Texas A&M in College Station. Lawmakers will have to decide in the next legislative session.
Written by Christopher De Los Santos.