Oklahoma State cited by accreditor for deficiencies

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Oklahoma State University Center for Veterinary Health Sciences is making some changes to its staffing, infrastructure, and policies after it has been put on probationary accreditation status.

The AVMA Council on Education decided during its fall meeting in September 2017 after a site visit that spring. The council cited major deficiencies with Standard 2 (Finances), Standard 6 (Students), and Standard 8 (Faculty) in addition to minor deficiencies with Standard 3 (Physical Facilities and Equipment), Standard 9 (Curriculum), and Standard 11 (Outcomes Assessment), according to the COE’s notice of accreditation actions, which the program shared with JAVMA News.

Probationary accreditation is granted to a veterinary college that has one or more major deficiencies that have more than minimal impact on student learning or safety. Oklahoma State was directed to do the following:

  • Present a detailed financial plan that outlines how existing and new revenues will be allocated to sustain the program.
  • Provide enough faculty and staff to cover clinical responsibilities.
  • Provide sufficient faculty to deliver the educational program and fulfill the mission of the college.
  • Repair or replace and maintain flooring in the large animal hospital.
  • Ensure a holistic review of the curriculum.
  • Incorporate learning outcomes into individual course learning objectives.

The COE has also asked the veterinary college to document that the clinical caseload is adequate for the number of students as well as provide information on the size of the food animal caseload and how the college will enhance this caseload. Further, the program must report on steps and a timeline for stopping student attrition.

McElroy Hall at Oklahoma State University Center for Veterinary Health Sciences (Courtesy of Oklahoma State University CVHS)

These deficiencies must be corrected in two years. The veterinary college must submit reports to the COE every six months. If minor deficiencies are not corrected within one year, a veterinary college will be placed on probationary accreditation for an additional year.

Dr. Chris Ross, interim dean of Oklahoma State’s CVHS, noted in the plan to address deficiencies he submitted to the council in November that state appropriations have declined nearly 26 percent since 2015.

To make up for the drop, the veterinary college has increased tuition revenue 22 percent in that same time, mostly by seeking to enroll more nonresident students. In fact, the college doubled the number of nonresident students admitted from 24 to 48 in the fall. The number of resident students remained at 58. The 106-member class is the largest in the history of OSU’s nearly 70-year-old veterinary program.

OSU will fund the addition of a new three-classroom building to accommodate the growth in enrollment. Construction is scheduled to begin in the spring, and the building is to be available for use in fall 2019.

Dr. Ross’ letter said that increased revenue realized through additional enrollment will total $3.5 million to $4 million when fully rolled in, and it is scheduled to be used for faculty and staff hiring. "Further opportunities exist for increases in enrollment revenue in the form of fee and tuition increases, but obviously these increased costs to students should be judiciously applied," he wrote. Additionally, OSU will give the college $600,000 in new revenue each year to support hiring new faculty.

When faculty retired or left for another job in the middle of a bad budget year, the position was held open to help offset lost funding, Dr. Ross said in a Dec. 4 Oklahoman newspaper article. That impacted the faculty-student ratio.

However, since June, the veterinary college has filled 10 positions, including Dr. Carlos Risco as dean. He will start in his position in March. An additional 10 positions are open to be filled as increased tuition revenue comes in. "Increased staffing will also ease the burden identified by the site visit team placed on students who provide after-hours care," Dr. Ross’ letter stated.

Other changes the veterinary college is in the process of making are hiring a manager of curriculum and assessment; starting a holistic review and revision of the curriculum beginning this spring and ensuring that a holistic curriculum review will occur every seven years; and hiring a full-time counselor this year to assist students with organizational skills, study habits, and emotional well-being.

Related JAVMA content:

Oklahoma State names Risco veterinary dean (Dec. 15, 2017)