Administrators and officials from Texas Tech University and Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC) gathered Thursday (Sept. 19) in an empty field just north of the Amarillo campus to break ground on the Texas Tech University School of Veterinary Medicine, the latest milestone that will bring about the state of Texas’ first new school of veterinary medicine in more than 100 years.
The turning of dirt symbolized the culmination of years of dedication and hard work that will result in the Texas Tech University School of Veterinary Medicine, designed to address the imperative need for rural and large-animal veterinarians. Within two years, Texas Tech University expects to enroll its first class of veterinary students who will receive a cost-efficient education through an innovative, world-class curriculum designed to address the critical shortage of veterinarians that is threatening small, regional and agricultural communities throughout the state.
“This groundbreaking celebrates an achievement that symbolizes the best of what can result from cooperation that captures the synergies between education, city and state government, industry and individuals of exceptional vision and generosity,” said Lawrence Schovanec, Texas Tech President. “Because of the support of so many, the Texas Tech School of Veterinary Medicine will be able to provide students greater access to affordable and innovative education that will prepare them to serve the people of our state, especially those in rural areas, and the large-animal industry that is so important to the state and especially West Texas. This is a proud day for our state, West Texas and Texas Tech.”
The academic building will be named the School of Veterinary Medicine Amarillo Campus. In addition, a separate set of facilities that will serve as the large-animal focal point of the school will be named the School of Veterinary Medicine Mariposa Station. Together, these facilities support the school’s instruction, research and outreach mission.
The two-story academic building will consist of two learning wings. The east wing will consist of three large classrooms, breakout rooms and office suites on the first floor, with leadership and faculty offices and graduate study and work rooms on the second floor. The west wing will consist of laboratory and research spaces, as well as locker rooms, surgery suites, housing for small animals and support rooms for anatomy and pathology instruction. The west wing also will include a lobby where veterinary partners can drop off animals for examination and surgical procedures.
“This is a monumental day for the Texas Tech University System, the city of Amarillo and our great state as the groundbreaking of the Texas Tech School of Veterinary Medicine signifies the cementing of this initiative,” said Dr. Tedd L. Mitchell, chancellor of the Texas Tech University System and TTUHSC president.
“Today’s celebration is more than a century in the making and is proof that when our communities come together, our greatest ambitions are possible. From the beginning, our vision for the veterinary school has been to answer the needs of an underserved region and industry and to provide affordable higher education to citizens of Texas. We wouldn’t be here without the endless support of many, and I thank you all.”
The School of Veterinary Medicine is expected to open in the fall of 2021 and will enroll an initial pioneering class of approximately 60 students. The program also is designed to support graduate students involved in advanced research.
Texas Tech’s model will recruit and select students with a passion to practice and succeed in small, agricultural and regional communities and utilize a curriculum focused on the competencies and skills necessary to be successful in practices that support these communities. The model eliminates the need for a costly teaching hospital and, instead, partners with the community of veterinary practices across the state to provide clinical learning through collaboration.
The groundbreaking is the year’s latest milestone, after state leaders recognized the need for a new school of veterinary medicine. In June, Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law the state budget for the next two years, which appropriated $17.35 million for the School of Veterinary Medicine in Amarillo that will go toward operational needs in order to get the school up and running. The appropriation included language directing Texas Tech to move forward in establishing the school.
Donors and civic leaders have pledged more than $90 million toward infrastructure, construction and scholarships for the School of Veterinary Medicine on the site of TTUHSC in Amarillo, which made Thursday’s groundbreaking possible.
“We are here today because of the dedicated work and leadership of so many,” said Guy Loneragan, dean of the School of Veterinary Medicine. “At its heart, this has been driven by passionate veterinarians across the state. They have been involved from the beginning and have shaped this school into something greater. I also appreciate the great leadership of the Texas Veterinary Medical Association in advancing the needs of the state and the profession.
“Words cannot express the gratitude and admiration I have for the Amarillo community, its vision and its leadership. Their generosity makes these buildings possible. It also provided our legislators critical support with which they could show their colleagues the return on investment of state investment in the new school.”