More veterinary colleges in line for accreditation evaluations

Three proposed programs will have consultative visits this year by the AVMA Council on Education while another launches

Updated March 11, 2024

The AVMA Council on Education (AVMA COE) will have its hands full with 14 scheduled site visits for the remainder of this year. Among them are five consultative site visits to proposed veterinary programs vying for accreditation.

The consultative site visit provides the proposed veterinary college with an unofficial report on the plan’s readiness to apply for a letter of reasonable assurance. Once any deficiencies in the plan have been addressed and document to the council, the proposed veterinary college can then apply for a comprehensive site visit to determine if the plan meets the criteria for a letter of reasonable assurance.

A letter of reasonable assurance is not a pre-accreditation action but indicates that the proposed veterinary college may gain accreditation in the future if the program completes all the plans it presents to the AVMA COE. Receiving this letter allows the institution to begin enrolling students.

AVMA Council on Education

For example, a comprehensive site visit to Rowan University Shreiber School of Veterinary Medicine is scheduled for April 21-26 by the council. The program aims to have an inaugural class of 60-70 students in fall 2025, pending a letter of reasonable assurance from the AVMA COE.

AVMA News previously reported that Clemson University’s proposed College of Veterinary Medicine and Arkansas State University’s proposed College of Veterinary Medicine were seeking accreditation. The AVMA COE recently announced it will conduct consultative site visits to these institutions from May 12-16 and July 7-11, respectively.

Three other proposed programs also been scheduled for consultative visits. In addition, a veterinary program in Indiana announced its launch earlier this year.

Chamberlain University

Chamberlain University’s proposed School of Veterinary Medicine in Stockbridge, Georgia, will have a consultative visit from the council August 11-15.

A statement provided by Talisha Holmes, director of global communications for Adtalem Global Education, said, “At this time, Adtalem and Chamberlain continue to develop the details of the program … We are working closely with regulators, especially the AVMA, to develop this new program that will expand our scale, reach, and access to veterinarian medicine education which will help address future workforce needs in this space.”

Dr. Phillip Nelson is the proposed veterinary school’s founding dean, according to his LinkedIn page.

Dr. Nelson (Tuskegee ’79) stepped down in September 2022 as dean of Western University of Health Sciences (WesternU) College of Veterinary Medicine after 15 years.

Prior to joining the WesternU faculty, Dr. Nelson served as an associate dean at Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine from 1994-2005. He also was a professor of academic and public affairs from 2001-05 at MSU.

In 2005, he joined WesternU as executive associate dean for preclinical programs and became the veterinary school’s second dean two years later.

Chamberlain University is run by Adtalem Global Education—formerly DeVry Inc.—a for-profit institution that also owns Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine in St. Kitts, West Indies.

University of Maryland Eastern Shore

The University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES), a historically Black college and university (HBCU) in Princess Anne, Maryland, received approval from the University System of Maryland to offer a veterinary school on December 15, 2023, according to a university announcement.

The proposed veterinary program will have a consultative site visit from the AVMA COE from July 7-11.

If accredited, this would be the second HBCU to offer a veterinary school after Tuskegee University and the first stand-alone program in Maryland, as there is currently the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine based in Blacksburg, Virginia.

An instructor demonstrating care for a goat to a group of young students
Dr. Kimberly Braxton instructs preveterinary students at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore’s (UMES) campus farm. Dr. Braxton is UMES’s campus veterinarian, an assistant professor, and preveterinary faculty advisor. She has been named interim founding dean of the university’s proposed School of Veterinary Medicine. (Photo courtesy of UMES Ag Communications/Todd Dudek)

The proposed program would have a have a class size of 100 and three-year curriculum covering nine semesters. Tuition has not yet been set.

“We will utilize campus facilities in the first six semesters and rely principally in the final year on a distributive model of clinical education with proven partners,” said  Moses T. Kairo, PhD, professor and dean of the university’s School of Agricultural and Natural Sciences.

He added that UMES will build new facilities and upgrade existing infrastructure as well as partner with existing organizations to leverage their facilities. The proposed program also anticipates developing strategic partnerships with other HBCU colleges and universities.

“As a land-grant HBCU dating back to the 1890s, we’ve been training underserved students in areas, including animal health, for a long, long time,” Kairo said. “We are painfully aware of the acute shortage of diverse veterinarians, especially Black Americans, so our mission is to serve Maryland as a public institution and diverse students from all corners of the United States.”

Dr. Kimberly Braxton, an assistant professor and campus veterinarian at UMES, has been named interim founding dean. She will hold this position until a successful search for a permanent dean next year, according to the announcement.

A UMES alumna, Dr. Braxton received her veterinary degree in 2012 from Purdue University and has served as the preveterinary faculty advisor for the past five years. She is also the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) attending veterinarian and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in laboratory animal science at Drexel University.

Rocky Vista University

Rocky Vista University (RVU) officially announced January 11 plans to develop its proposed College of Veterinary Medicine in Billings, Montana. RVU has been working on this project for the past 18 months and is pursuing AVMA COE accreditation, according to a Billings Gazette article.

The proposed veterinary program will have a consultative site visit from the council July 21-25.

University officials said if approved by the AVMA COE, RVU will move forward with a building dedicated to the proposed veterinary college on land it has acquired on Billings’s west end, according to news reports.

The university opened its College of Medicine this past July. The proposed veterinary college would be the first in the state and offer a three-year program.

Dr. Robert Murtaugh has been appointed as the founding dean of the proposed veterinary college. Prior to this position, he was chief professional relations officer of Thrive Pet Healthcare.

A 1980 veterinary graduate of the University of Minnesota, he joined the veterinary faculty from 1984-98 at what is now known as Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University.

He was chief of staff for two years at the nonprofit DoveLewis Emergency Animal Hospital in Portland, Oregon, before joining VCA Animal Hospital in 2000.

Steve Arveschoug, Big Sky Economic Development executive director, was quoted as saying that his organization’s commitment involves supporting the infrastructure requirements for the expansion of the RVU campus and facilitating the natural partnerships that come with this newly proposed veterinary program.

He pointed to the Yellowstone Valley Animal Shelter, Zoo Montana, Rocky Mountain College Equestrian Studies program, local veterinary practices, and livestock operations in the region as opportunities for collaboration.

Hanover College

Hanover College announced late last year that it plans to launch a veterinary program after its board of trustees voted to move forward with the project and begin seeking accreditation from the AVMA COE.

Hanover College is a private university located in Hanover, Indiana, which is 42 miles northeast of Louisville, Kentucky. If approved, it would be the second program in Indiana, joining Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine.

The proposed veterinary college plans to offer a hybrid accelerated model, which would be “a blend of online lectures and discussions, along with centralized laboratory and regional clinical experiences,” according to the announcement. In addition, Hanover College will place students  at off-campus sites as part of its distributed clinical education model.

Aerial image of the Hanover College campus
Hanover College in Hanover, Indiana, is one of nearly a dozen proposed veterinary colleges seeking a letter of accreditation from the AVMA COE.

In 2022, Hanover College and Ivy Tech Community College in Madison, Indiana, received a $5.9 million grant from Indiana to launch the program.

The estimated cost for the proposed veterinary program is $16.5 million for facilities and operational start-up costs, which includes building and renovating facilities on the Hanover College campus, according to the announcement, in addition to hiring faculty and staff members.

In conjunction with Hanover’s program, Ivy Tech Madison will offer an associate degree veterinary nursing program, pending accreditation from the AVMA Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA).

Dr. Christina V. Tran has been tapped as the founding dean as of February 5. She most recently served as clinical relations lead veterinarian and associate professor of practice at the University of Arizona College of Veterinary Medicine.

Dr. Tran previously served as director of veterinary technology and clinical assistant professor at Purdue from 2013-16. She was a member of Portland Community College’s veterinary technology faculty from 2011-13.

She earned her veterinary degree in 2000 from the University of Illinois.