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UA seeks money for study of veterinarian program

TUCSON, Ariz. -- University of Arizona officials want the Tucson-based school to establish a veterinary medical program and are asking the Legislature for a $250,000 state appropriation for an initial study.

Arizona now has no veterinary medicine school, but the state subsidizes some students who attend Colorado State University.

A National Research Council report issued last May concluded there's no national shortage of veterinarians.

However, Agriculture and Life Sciences Dean Shane Burgess said the proposed veterinarian program would address shortages for large-animal vets and in vets for public health, disease research and food safety.

A veterinarian program proposal 20 years ago included building a veterinarian hospital and had a $200 million price tag.

The current proposal is based on a model in which students would meet residency requirements at private veterinary centers and clinics, the Arizona Daily Star reported Monday.

The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences already operates a ranch, an equine center and a Food Products and Safety Laboratory.

Burgess said he envisions a streamlined program in which undergraduates who emerge from a competitive first-year program in a new School of Animal and Comparative Biomedical Sciences would enter a year-round veterinary medical program that would lead to a doctorate in veterinary medicine in as little as three additional years.

Such programs are common elsewhere in the world, Burgess said.

Having a shortened program located in Arizona would help veterinary students avoid crushing loads of debt, said Noble Jackson, a veterinarian, professor and adviser to undergraduates in the Department of Veterinary Science and Microbiology.

A private school, Midwestern University, last year announced plans last year for a veterinary medicine college in Glendale, a Phoenix suburb.

Kathleen H. Goeppinger, Midwestern's president and CEO, said in an email that it will start with a class of 100 students in August of 2014.

Goeppinger said she would ``welcome another program in Tucson, as the shortage of veterinarians in our state is critical in many regions.''

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