The American Veterinary Medical Association's Council on Education (COE) has sustained its denial of initial accreditation for the University of Arizona's proposed veterinary medical education program. The UA succeeded with seven of the 11 accreditation standards, and will continue to work to earn the COE's designation.
"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, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost.
"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," Comrie said. "We intend to work with the COE to meet or exceed all of its standards and become a program worthy of Arizona and the University of Arizona."
The UA had appealed the COE's decision to withhold its designation of "reasonable assurance of accreditation" last December. The COE reversed part of the earlier decision and approved the program's plans for a research program, but issues with four other standards remain and those will be addressed in a revised submission.
The COE also significantly shortened the wait period before the UA could reapply for consideration. While they could have required a 12-month wait after the appeal, the COE will allow the UA to reapply as soon as June 14.
The UA already has begun several efforts for the re-submission. Those include hiring a consultant with experience in COE accreditation and opening 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 a program for clinical training.
A policy advisor and attorney in the animal health sector, consultant Mark Cushing, is the founding partner of the Animal Policy Group, bringing invaluable expertise to help the University meet all of the COE's standards for accreditation. His track record includes helping three other educational institutions secure COE accreditation.
The dean of veterinary sciences will report to Comrie, with additional reporting responsibilities to Shane Burgess, vice president for agriculture, life and veterinary sciences and Cooperative Extension.
The UA also plans to appoint an interim dean of veterinary sciences to accelerate the accreditation efforts.
The need for more veterinarians in Arizona is particularly acute for counties and cities outside Maricopa County, especially for large-animal practices. The Tribal Nations also have been short of veterinarians for several years.
The proposed UA program would be the only public veterinary medical education program in Arizona. Veterinarians who graduate from a UA program will be more likely to stay in Arizona and those with less debt can better afford to practice in rural areas.