WesternU breaks ground for veterinary center

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WesternU breaks ground
Shovels poised: Ready to break ground for the Veterinary Medical Center at the WesternU College of Veterinary Medicine are California VMA President Jonathan Peek; university President Philip Pumerantz, PhD; Dean Shirley Johnston; and AVMA President James H. Brandt.

On March 19, ground was broken for the first new U.S. veterinary college since Wisconsin's opened in 1983. About 30 miles east of downtown Los Angeles, in Pomona, Calif., officials of the Western University of Health Sciences dug the first few shovelfuls of earth for the Veterinary Medical Center at its new College of Veterinary Medicine.

Presiding over the ceremony were WesternU President Philip Pumerantz, PhD, and Dr. Shirley Johnston, founding dean of the college.

The invited guests included AVMA President James H. Brandt and Executive Vice President Bruce W. Little; California VMA President Jonathan Peek; Pomona Mayor Edward Cortez; and Sen. Nell Soto of the California Legislature.

In March 2001 the AVMA Council on Education granted the WesternU veterinary college a letter of reasonable assurance. Subsequently, faculty are being hired, students are being recruited, and funds are being raised for reconstruction of a vacant building into the Veterinary Medical Center and for the veterinary complex. Work will begin in September to expand the existing building to 24,550 square feet at a cost of about $3.7 million.

When the college opens its doors to its charter class of 77 students in August 2003, it will join the University of California-Davis as the only other veterinary school in the state. By 2005, the college plans to enroll 100 new students a year.

The college's founding principles are commitments to innovative, student-centered learning; to a reverence for life; and to strategic partnerships and alliances.

The program approved by the AVMA Council on Education includes a two-year preclinical, problem-based learning curriculum; preclinical skills mastery; and partnership with the College of Agriculture, California Polytechnic University, Pomona.

Through much of the third and fourth years of the curriculum, students will be involved in off-campus clinical rotations.

The WesternU curriculum was proposed by Dr. Billy E. Hooper, professor emeritus at Purdue University. Dr. Hooper is a past director of the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges and former chair of the Council on Education.