A&M alumnus agrees Texas needs another veterinary school

A&M alumnus agrees Texas needs another veterinary school

Posted: Updated:
AUSTIN, Texas -

Chancellor Tedd Mitchell has a vision. The demand for vets in Texas has grown beyond the capacity of any singular program, so Texas Tech has stepped in.

Tech raised $90 million to build the School of Veterinary Medicine in Amarillo. It is asking the Texas legislature for $17 million to support an initial class size of 40 students.

However, Texas A&M is planning to expand its own program to West Texas A&M in Canyon. It asked for $8.1 million, which would graduate about 10 students whose sole focus is on food production medicine. 

However, those in the industry believe it is time for another institution.

"I'm one of the only licensed bovine practitioners between Lubbock and Amarillo, and then off to Hereford that's under 60 years old, 50 for sure," Will Leone, a New York native who left the Northeast for the South Plains, said. "I focus intensively on dairy."

A Cornell graduate, Leone is the herd veterinarian managing partner for Legacy Farms. He said he has always has a passion for this industry, but he has concerns.

"The veterinarian is a public health official, the veterinarian's job, yeah he may be prey checking cattle, but he's also suppose to be screening for disease," he said.

With a lack of vets to provide those screenings, Leone said he believes it is an urgent issue.

"It's really a big disservice to the state of Texas," he said.

However, Tech is looking to provide some resolution.

Louis "Bud" Farr, a Texas A&M alumnus who has been immersed in Ag for 48 years, said the new school would be a saving grace for the veterinarian profession.

He's been helping small and large animals at South Plains Veterinary Clinic his entire career. He said he has noticed fewer students coming out of vet school who are able and willing to work with large animals. 

"I have students coming out of veterinarian school who are afraid to do anything," Farr said.

There are currently about 6,600 veterinarians in Texas, and fewer than 200 of those are large animal vets.

Recently, Farr met with Chancellor Tedd Mitchell. He said to his surprise, Mitchell addressed every one of his concerns.

"I think it would be a great loss to the state of Texas and Veterinarian profession if Dr. Mitchell is not allowed to fulfill his plan," he said.

More students are being forced to leave the state, or even the country, to attend vet school, Mitchell said.

"The focus is providing access to students who currently do not have access," Mitchell said. "We'll look at the front end of students who come from Ag backgrounds from students that are living in smaller areas, again not necessarily West Texas, but East Texas small towns as well. So they already have a sentimental attachment, an emotional attachment to rural areas to smaller towns, those are the students you want to go towards." 

These students would get hands-on experience at hospitals, clinics and farms in the South plains area, he said. This would keep the overhead cost low and provide help where it's needed in West Texas.

"It shouldn't be framed as an A&M versus Tech thing," Leone said. "You know this is a Texas problem, we need to train more veterinarians in Texas, and we need to have more veterinarians around." 

Last week, Texas Tech sent its application to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board for the vet school. It's the lone exceptional item the university will be putting before lawmakers for funding. 

Tech President Lawrence Schovanec is asking the legislature to continue funding a total of $62,350,00 million over the next eight years.

Powered by Frankly