Midwestern closer to accreditation

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The Glendale, Ariz., campus of Midwestern University is home to the institution’s new College of Veterinary Medicine, which received a letter of reasonable assurance of accreditation recently from the AVMA Council on Education. (Courtesy of Midwestern University)

Midwestern University College of Veterinary Medicine in Glendale, Ariz., is on the path to becoming accredited by the AVMA Council on Education.

Council members voted during a May 31 conference call to award the institution a letter of reasonable assurance of accreditation after conducting a site visit Jan. 21-23.

Reasonable assurance is not a pre-accreditation action by the AVMA COE. Rather, for a new institution seeking initial accreditation, such a letter indicates there is reasonable assurance of future accreditation if the program is established according to plans presented to the COE and if the institution is able to demonstrate a realistic plan to comply with the standards of accreditation.

Essentially, then, this first step in the AVMA accreditation process puts MWU on target for provisional accreditation with the acceptance of its first class of students in fall 2014 and for full accreditation in 2018 at the time those first students are graduating.

The university has already joined the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges’ Veterinary Medical College Application Service to start accepting applications.

Kathleen H. Goeppinger, PhD, Midwestern University president and CEO, said that she was pleased with the COE’s decision and the university had worked hard to get to this point.

The more than $144 million veterinary campus will have three buildings in which to practice and teach veterinary medicine. Construction of a 76,000-square-foot classroom building, a 109,000-square-foot veterinary teaching hospital, and a 36,000-square-foot large animal teaching facility is under way. The university is in the process of designing a center for integrative research. It also plans to build more student housing and a parking deck. In all, there will be eight construction projects.

Class size is projected at 100 for Midwestern, and tuition has been reported in the range of $50,000 per year.

“We do have an active financial planning department, and students, as they come in the door, will benefit from the work we already do,” Dr. Goeppinger said.

Midwestern announced this past November that the Arizona State Board for Private Postsecondary Education had issued formal approval for the university to open Arizona’s first college of veterinary medicine. It was officially established April 24, 2012.

Dr. Brian K. Sidaway was announced as the founding dean in January; MWU is now in the process of recruiting and hiring faculty, who will total 50. In addition to the faculty on-site, the veterinary college will employ a distributive clinical model to supplement on-campus clinical instruction. This includes a large contingent of adjunct faculty who will provide clinical instruction under the supervision of MWU faculty.

The university itself is more than 100 years old and is known for offering 12 health science–related master’s and doctoral degree programs. Currently, about 2,500 students attend the Downers Grove, Ill., campus and another 2,600 the Arizona campus. The private, not-for-profit college was founded in 1900 in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago and moved to Downers Grove in 1986. The Glendale campus opened in 1996; both locations have expanded at a fast clip. The university opened a clinical psychology program in 2010 at the Arizona campus followed by a dental program in 2011, and a speech-language pathology program is anticipated this fall at the Illinois campus.

When asked why the university was opening a veterinary college, given the current excess capacity in the veterinary workforce, Dr. Goeppinger responded that the university can’t predict who will be in the profession and when.

“I don’t know what the future is going to bring, like when people will start retiring. We know we have a great deal of interest to encourage students in large animal medicine, and we will continue planning that we’ll build a quality school,” Dr. Goeppinger said.

Asked to elaborate on providing incentives for students to pursue large animal medicine, she said it was too early to talk about incentives from the state or university, and that university administrators would have a better understanding when they have a handle on the applicant pool and direction of the veterinary college.

“We plan on moving ahead with a quality program that will make the profession proud,” Dr. Goeppinger said.