Texas Tech’s decision to create a School of Veterinary Medicine has been met with criticism from Texas A&M University.
Lubbock-based Tech has plans to build a veterinary school in Amarillo to combat the shortage of veterinarians in rural areas of the state. In 2016, there were only 180 vets working in rural communities.
Texas A&M operates the only veterinary school in the state in College Station, and maintains that they already send veterinary students to the area where the Texas Tech’s school would be built, according to the Texas Tribune.
A&M is concerned that a second veterinary school is an inefficient way of using state funds and says that their school is more than capable of serving the veterinary needs for the state.
“It is completely redundant,” Eleanor Green, dean of the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine, tells the Texas Tribune. “There’s nothing they’re talking about doing that we don’t already do.”
The West A&M campus is less than 20 miles from Amarillo and offers internships, rotations, residencies and research opportunities for vet students in rural areas and actively recruits students from rural communities, according to Green.
The school is also planning on expanding their freshman class size from 132 to 162 students in the next fall class. But a report from Texas Tech says that this could risk the quality of education at the world-class school.
Tech counters that having a second veterinary school will accomodate a larger amount of students and therefore be able to send more vets into rural settings.
“Texas is blessed with one of the world’s best vet schools, and for many good reasons,” Guy Loneragan, a veterinarian and Tech professor, tells the Texas Tribune. “But the growth in Texas has exceeded the capacity of any one institution and we’re developing a complementary program that together will more fully meet the needs of Texas than any one institution is doing at the moment.”
Tech’s program will also employ a non-traditional teaching method by placing students in residency style learning opportunities in rural clinics. This would get students involved in rural communities early on without having to build a pricey teaching hospital, according to Loneragan. He also adds that the school would be off state funds within 8 years.
Veterinarian Gregg Veneklasen, who works in the small town of Palo Duro Canyon, Texas, is opposed to Tech’s veterinary school, but says there is a real need to attract students who want to work in rural areas, and that the conflict between the two schools is taking attention away from this important issue.