For years, the residents of Pima County have picked up the tab for the education of doctors at the University of Arizona. So when rumors began to circulate that Pima County administrator Chuck Huckelberry started pushing an extravagant animal shelter to accommodate the University no one was surprised.
The Pima County Board of Supervisors placed on the November 4th General Election ballot Proposition 415. If approved, this ballot measure, will provide $22 million for the new animal care center.
While Pima County continues to raise taxes for projects that serve the university; the UofA is not short on financial support. Just this week, the university received a foundational gift of $9 million from the Kemper and Ethel Marley Foundation which will support the state’s first public veterinary medical and surgical program to train Doctors of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Arizona. The program is targeting a 2015 fall semester launch.
The UA College of Agriculture and Life Sciences has been actively developing the program to address Arizona’s critical veterinary needs, including training more veterinarians, and improving animal and public health. A consultative site visit by the American Veterinary Medical Association occurred in January. A comprehensive AVMA site visit for program accreditation will happen soon.
Established in 1990, the Kemper and Ethel Marley Foundation has previously invested in the UA in providing private support for the Marley Building and endowing Project CENTRL, a rural leadership initiative. In 2012, the foundation also made a $4.5 million gift to the UA Foundation to endow a research and extension program in sustainable rangeland stewardship.
The program will run year-round so students complete their degrees faster, incur less debt and enter the workforce more rapidly. In what is called a distributive model, the final two semesters will be spent working in private veterinary practices, government agencies or other community partnerships to secure hands-on, real world learning in communities throughout the state.
Other clinical training partners will include federal and state animal health labs and regulators, U.S. Border Patrol and Homeland Security, and animal shelter and rescue agencies. The UA already has letters of interest from many prospective partners.
Currently, Arizona students interested in becoming veterinarians compete for veterinary school admissions at out-of-state institutions, many of which favor resident students. For example, 1,600 applicants competed for 138 seats at Colorado State University. Only 55 of these seats are open to applicants outside Colorado, and just a handful of these are filled by Arizonans.
“Arizona students pay higher costs through non-resident or private tuition, incur more debt and often stay in the practices, or seek employment with, the out-of-state veterinary practices and companies where they intern as part of the out-of-state education,” said Shane Burgess, vice provost and CALS dean. “We need the smart and dedicated people we train to stay here. Arizona’s hard-earned tax dollars need to promote Arizona’s future.”