University of Arizona hires veterinary dean

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Dr. Funk
Dr. Julie Funk

The University of Arizona is hiring the first dean of its developing College of Veterinary Medicine.

Dr. Julie Funk will lead the college starting March 18, according to a university announcement. She is currently the associate dean for professional academic programs and student success at the Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine.

Dr. Funk said she sees a chance to help develop an innovative college at a respected research institution and work with people who are passionate about developing the college. She had been happy at Michigan State, but she said developing and leading a new veterinary college is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

UA officials hope to start teaching veterinary classes in fall 2020. A university announcement states that the college will have a year-round curriculum as part of a program designed to let veterinary students graduate in three years.

"Students are expected to get a wide range of clinical experiences with a variety of species in diverse settings, including the university, private practice, industry, and the biomedical research and public health arenas," the Dec. 6 announcement states.

In the announcement, UA interim provost Jeff Goldberg praised Dr. Funk for her leadership at MSU and experience in private practice, teaching, and administration.

Dr. Funk, who is currently consulting for the UA on its proposed veterinary program, sees an exciting challenge to build a college of veterinary medicine that will be successful for the next 100 years. She and other university leaders can re-examine teaching practices, how students learn in veterinary colleges, and how they can ensure graduates are ready to practice—without the constraints of considering how things had been done before.

That opportunity could attract inventive faculty and staff, she said.

"I'm really excited about the idea of attracting those people who want to innovate around veterinary medical education," she said.

Dr. Funk will lead education, research, and training programs and work with the AVMA Council on Education toward full accreditation for the veterinary college, the university announcement states. The COE has a comprehensive site visit scheduled for May 12-16.

In 2016, the COE declined to give UA officials a letter of reasonable assurance of accreditation, which is a formal statement that a developing program likely will comply with the accreditation standards. Gaining that assurance is a step toward accreditation.

If the visit this spring goes well, Dr. Funk said, UA officials plan to submit a proposal to the council in September. Gaining assurance that the plans are acceptable would put the college on schedule to open in fall 2020, she said.

In September 2018, the AVMA Council on Education granted accreditation to another Arizona-based veterinary college, Midwestern University College of Veterinary Medicine.

Related JAVMA content:

Arizona program hopes to start in fall 2020 (Nov. 15, 2017)

Accreditation appeal denied, Arizona plans to try again (June 15, 2017)

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)