Accreditation appeal denied, Arizona plans to try again

Program failed to meet some standards but will resubmit proposal
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The AVMA Council on Education has upheld its decision to deny a letter of reasonable assurance to the University of Arizona’s Marley Foundation Doctor of Veterinary Medicine Program. The UA succeeded with seven of the 11 accreditation standards, and will continue to work to earn the COE’s designation, according to an April 27 university press release.

“It’s been a rigorous process and we’ve learned a great deal about what is required to meet the COE’s requirements for accreditation, and the UA remains committed to achieving that designation for our program,” said Andrew Comrie, PhD, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost, in the release. “Accreditation should be viewed as a process, not an obstacle, and pursuing accreditation is central to our goal of providing a superior program of the highest quality.”

UA started the process to seek COE accreditation when the School of Veterinary Medicine conducted a feasibility study in 2013 and asked that year for a consultative site visit from the COE; the visit took place Jan. 13-15, 2014. Arizona filed a letter of application with the COE in 2014, seeking a letter of reasonable assurance of accreditation. A council site team traveled to Tucson for a comprehensive site visit Jan. 24-28, 2016. This past October, the council voted to deny a letter of reasonable assurance of accreditation.

Reasonable assurance does not confer accreditation but is a first step toward earning provisional accreditation and, ultimately, accreditation. The classification means the developing college has demonstrated that it has a realistic plan for complying with COE standards. A college granted reasonable assurance must offer admission to its first class of students and matriculate them within three years.

The UA appealed the COE decision this past December.

The Thomas W. Keating Bioresearch Building at the University of Arizona houses basic research in agriculture, medicine, pharmacy, and engineering. It would be one of the facilities used by faculty and students at the proposed School of Veterinary Medicine. The program has met the AVMA Council on Education accreditation standard for research programs but falls short in four of the 11 accreditation standards. (Courtesy of University of Arizona)

In March, the council reversed part of its earlier decision and approved the program’s plans for a research program, but issues with four other standards remain (Standard 2 Finances, Standard 4 Clinical Resources, Standard 6 Students, and Standard 8 Faculty). These will be addressed in a revised submission, the release stated.

The council also substantially shortened the waiting period before the UA could reapply for consideration. Although it could have required a 12-month wait after the appeal, the COE said it would allow Arizona to reapply as soon as June 14.

The UA already has begun several efforts for the resubmission, according to the university press release. Those include hiring Mark Cushing, founding partner of the Animal Policy Group, as a consultant.

Cushing worked with Ross University and the National Autonomous University of Mexico as they pursued, and later received, COE accreditation. He also is helping Lincoln Memorial University College of Veterinary Medicine in its efforts to earn accreditation; he currently serves as LMU’s vice president for public affairs and as university counsel.

Arizona has also opened a search for a permanent dean of veterinary sciences to lead the university’s efforts to establish a veterinary sciences faculty, create the curriculum, and establish a program for clinical training. The dean of veterinary sciences will report to Dr. Comrie, with additional reporting responsibilities to Dr. Shane Burgess, vice president for agriculture, life, and veterinary sciences and for cooperative extension.

The UA also plans to appoint an interim dean of veterinary sciences to accelerate the accreditation efforts, according to the release. Dr. Burgess currently holds this position.

Arizona’s proposed veterinary program is composed of the preprofessional program and the professional School of Veterinary Medicine; the COE decision impacts only the professional program. For more information, visit here.

The proposed UA program would be the only public veterinary medical education program in Arizona. Midwestern University, a private, not-for-profit health care university based in Glendale, Arizona, received a letter of reasonable assurance from the COE in January 2013. It’s on track to receive full accreditation in 2018 at the time its first students are graduating.

Related JAVMA content:

Arizona to appeal adverse decision (Oct. 15, 2016)

Accreditation status remains uncertain for Arizona (July 15, 2016)

Arizona veterinary program secures funding (Oct. 15, 2014)

Arizona veterinary program being reconceptualized (June 15, 2014)