November 15, 2000


 AVMA provides background on Western University of Health Sciences' lawsuit

Posted Nov. 1, 2000


The AVMA distributed the following informational news brief to 2,800 media outlets, including daily newspapers as well as veterinary, education, and consumer publications. The news brief includes information related to the recent law suit filed by the Western University of Health Sciences, Pomona, Cailf.

The AVMA believes it is inappropriate to comment regarding ongoing litigation. The following information is provided only as background for interested parties.

Schaumburg, IL...On October 13, 2000, Western University of Health Sciences (WesternU) served the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) with papers initiating a lawsuit. The lawsuit concerns WesternU's inability to meet the essentials to be granted a "letter of reasonable assurance" for its planned College of Veterinary Medicine from the AVMA's Council on Education (AVMA-COE). A letter of reasonable assurance indicates that a veterinary college is likely to achieve future accreditation from the AVMA-COE if the college's plans indicate its ability to meet or exceed essential requirements.

The AVMA-COE has established "Essential Requirements for an Accredited or Approved College of Veterinary Medicine." These requirements are intended to ensure that graduates of accredited colleges of veterinary medicine are firmly based in the fundamental principles, scientific knowledge, and physical and mental skills of veterinary medicine, and are able to apply these fundamentals to solving veterinary medical problems. The essential requirements are published in the Accreditation Policies and Procedures of the AVMA Council on Education and include standards related to organization, finances, physical facilities and equipment, clinical resources, library and learning resources, students, admissions, faculty, curriculum, continuing education, and research programs. Each of the 31 veterinary colleges in the United States and Canada currently accredited by the AVMA-COE are evaluated on a regular basis and must demonstrate that they meet standards necessary to maintain accreditation.

Since 1952, the AVMA-COE has been recognized by the United States Department of Education (USDE) as the sole accrediting body for U.S. veterinary colleges. Recognition by the USDE indicates that the AVMA accreditation process adheres to federal accreditation guidelines, which are intended to ensure appropriate accreditation standards, fair application of those standards, and independent accreditation decisions by the AVMA-COE.

The AVMA-COE conducted 2 site visits to WesternU to determine its eligibility to receive a "letter of reasonable assurance." The AVMA-COE's findings from the first site visit, conducted in December 1998, indicated that WesternU's plan met 3 of the 11 essentials for accreditation. WesternU then completed a second self-study and requested a second site visit. This visit, conducted in February 2000, showed that WesternU's revised plan would satisfy 9 of the 11 essentials for accreditation. Portions of the plan addressing essentials number 3 (physical facilities and equipment) and number 9 (curriculum) were found to require further development and a letter of reasonable assurance was not granted.

WesternU elected to appeal the AVMA-COE's decisions through a hearing panel. The hearing panel determined that none of the concerns raised by WesternU would have affected the outcome of the AVMA-COE's evaluation.

The AVMA-COE recently met and considered the hearing panel's report. No "letter of reasonable assurance" was granted as a result of these deliberations. The AVMA-COE did establish a liaison committee to work with WesternU to facilitate its reapplication for a letter of reasonable assurance.

WesternU's request for a letter of reasonable assurance might be reconsidered during the AVMA-COE's spring 2001 meeting. If WesternU's revised plan were to meet standards for curriculum and physical facilities, a letter of reasonable assurance could be granted.


September 1998: Western University (WesternU) submitted a self-study report on its proposed College of Veterinary Medicine and sought a letter of reasonable assurance from the American Veterinary Medical Association's Council on Education (AVMA-COE).

December 1998: A site visit was conducted by members of the AVMA-COE.

February 1999: WesternU was not granted a letter of reasonable assurance; the AVMA-COE cited deficiencies in WesternU's plan in 8 of 11 essential requirements for accreditation of colleges of veterinary medicine.

October 1999: WesternU submitted a second self-study report, which led to a second site visit in February 2000.

February 2000: The second site visit was conducted by a different AVMA-COE team. A letter of reasonable assurance was not granted because WesternU's plan would not meet essential requirements for 1) physical facilities and equipment and 2) curriculum.

April 17, 2000: WesternU filed a lawsuit against the AVMA in U.S. District Court, Central District of California.

June 9, 2000: Following review of evidence, an independent 5-person hearing panel found that none of the concerns raised by WesternU would have affected the outcome of the Council's evaluation.

October 3, 2000: A hearing panel report was reviewed by the AVMA-COE; a "letter of reasonable assurance" was not granted, but an AVMA-COE liaison committee was established to facilitate communication with WesternU.

October 13, 2000: The AVMA is served with a lawsuit by WesternU.