Lincoln Memorial gets green light from AVMA council
Lincoln Memorial University College of Veterinary Medicine in Harrogate, Tenn., received a letter of reasonable assurance of future accreditation from the AVMA Council on Education after members took a vote during a July 2 conference call.
Reasonable assurance is not a preaccreditation 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 COE standards of accreditation.
Essentially, then, this first step in the AVMA accreditation process puts the LMU veterinary college on target for provisional accreditation with the acceptance of its first class of 85 students in fall 2014 and for full accreditation in 2018 at the time those first students are graduating. The college has joined the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges’ Veterinary Medical College Application Service. Estimated annual tuition will be $41,000, which is comparable to rates for other U.S. veterinary colleges.
Dr. Randall K. Evans (AUB ’87) will serve as the veterinary college’s dean. In 2011, Dr. Evans was chosen as the founding dean of the emerging veterinary college after serving as the founding dean of the School of Allied Health for four years. In addition, he was director for 19 years of Lincoln Memorial’s veterinary technology program, which is accredited by the AVMA Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities.
Dr. Evans received his DVM degree from Auburn University in 1987. After graduation, Dr. Evans completed an internship at the Fitzpatrick Veterinary Clinic in Nashville, Tenn., before returning to work at the Harrogate Hospital for Animals. He joined the LMU faculty in 1989.
Lincoln Memorial is a nonprofit, private, liberal arts institution located on a 1,000-acre wooded campus where Tennessee, Kentucky, and Virginia meet at the Cumberland Gap. Anticipated total enrollment at the university for this fall is 4,500.
LMU President James Dawson, PhD, said creating a veterinary college would not only be consistent with the university’s mission to serve the Appalachian region but also align well with the university’s other health science programs, which include osteopathic, physician assistant, nursing, veterinary technology, and allied health programs.
“This was a program that was viewed as a nice addition to our array of offerings in the curriculum,” he said. Thankfully, we’ve had great support from the local veterinary community in Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee, and good support from the citizens of this region.”
LMU has abandoned plans to offer an accelerated six-year program combining the preveterinary and veterinary curricula, but it plans to recruit preveterinary students to its campus as soon as this fall semester. For the first three years of the veterinary curriculum, students will be taught in a 140,000-square-foot math and science building, which was completed in 2012 at a cost of $30 million. One floor will be dedicated to instructional laboratories and classrooms. Another floor will house research facilities.
In addition, the college has a large animal facility located on a farm in Lee County, Va. And, the veterinary college will partner with the University of Kentucky Department of Veterinary Science’s Gluck Equine Research Center, which Dr. Dawson calls “an exciting prospect for us.”
Fourth-year students will spend their time at off-campus distributive clinical sites similar to the model found at the Western University of Health Sciences College of Veterinary Medicine in Pomona, Calif.
The institution is in the process of recruiting faculty, with department chair positions the first to be filled.
LMU conducted a feasibility study in 2010 and asked for a consultative site visit from the COE in 2011; the visit was conducted Oct. 23-27 that year. Lincoln Memorial filed a letter of application with the COE in 2012 seeking a letter of reasonable assurance of accreditation, and a site team traveled to Harrogate for a comprehensive site visit from Jan. 26-30 of this year. Several council members reviewed the university’s plan for creating a veterinary program and assessed existing resources such as budget, facilities, faculty, and administration.
Dr. Dawson said the biggest issue the COE site team visit had was the veterinary college’s ability to provide research opportunities for faculty and students.
“So we really focused on that. We dedicated a whole floor to research, and we have recently appointed a new vice president for research for the campus. And, our partnership with the Gluck Center in Lexington was probably one of the major accomplishments for us,” he said. Dr. Glen Hoffsis, former dean of the University of Florida and The Ohio State University colleges of veterinary medicine, also consulted with LMU to help the veterinary college earn COE recognition.
When asked about opening a veterinary college at a time when there is potential excess capacity in the veterinary market, Dr. Dawson said, “You never build programs like this—as important as it will be to the institution or region—for a specific period in time. The economy has had a downturn, and veterinarians have felt like they couldn’t retire and there’s not great demand at this point, but over time, that will turn around. There’s no question during these ebbs and flows we have different supply and demand issues. This university has been around more than 100 years, and we intend to be around for hundreds more.”
He added that the region is an underserved area in every part of the economy, but particularly in regard to veterinary services.
The University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine in Knoxville is located approximately 55 miles south of LMU.