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Utah Regents unanimously approve veterinarian program for USU

December 10th, 2010 Posted in Opinion

LOGAN—The Utah Board of Regents unanimously approved Utah State University’s proposal to develop the first veterinary program in the state on Thursday.

The new program will provide greater opportunity for Utah students interested in veterinary medicine, named as one of the 50 best careers of 2011 by U.S. News and World Report.

Now that the regents have approved the plan, the proposal goes to the Utah Legislature for funding. The program will need $1.7 million of ongoing annual funding from the state for the first and second years. After the program has been established for four years, it will need $3 million of annual ongoing funding.

“We are excited about the prospects of this new program,” said USU President Stan L. Albrecht. “This is a great opportunity for us.”

The new vet program, which has been in the works for more than three years, creates a partnership between USU and Washington State University. Students will spend the first two years at USU and their final two years, including clinical studies, at WSU.

Support from Utah residents has been overwhelming, university officials said.

“We have gained tremendous support from commodity groups, constituency groups, legislators and residents because they all see the need for increasing the number of practicing vets in the state of Utah,” said Ken White, department head in Animal, Dairy and Veterinary Sciences.

The program will accept 30 new students each year, 20 Utah residents and 10 nonresidents.

The program responds to an ongoing shortage of rural large-animal veterinarians in Utah. The U.S. Department of Agriculture identified six regions in Utah that have a shortage of vets, including Rich, San Juan and Kane counties. With a vet program in Utah, it ensures that some graduates will begin practicing in these low-vet areas, reducing the shortage.

“It’s a great day for agriculture, it’s a great day for the students in agriculture and it’s a wonderful opportunity for Utah State University to expand its mission,” White said.

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