The Amarillo City Council approved a $15 million grant Tuesday (Sept. 20) from the Amarillo Economic Development Corporation (AEDC) to the Texas Tech University System to support the establishment of a new College of Veterinary Medicine in Amarillo.
The grant was approved at the Amarillo City Council meeting on recommendation from the AEDC. It is a major step forward for Texas Tech’s vision of enhancing rural and large-animal veterinary medicine by providing an innovative model focused on improving animal health in the heart of the beef and dairy cattle industry.
“We are truly grateful to the Amarillo Economic Development Corporation and the City of Amarillo for their continued generosity and philanthropy to the Texas Tech University System and our universities,” Texas Tech University System Chancellor Robert Duncan said. “Once again, they have stepped up to support our vision — this time for veterinary medicine and the needs of this community, our region and the agriculture industry.”
The new veterinary college is expected to add 100 highly skilled jobs and approximately $10 million in annual labor income to the Amarillo economy. Texas Tech’s proposal will have an annual impact of more than $76 million on the Amarillo economy and serve as a catalyst for industry partnerships and expanded research in food technology, animal health and prevention of disease outbreaks.
“Not only is this a wonderful opportunity for students seeking careers in veterinary medicine, particularly in a region known as the livestock capital of the United States, it’s an investment in our community and economy,” Amarillo Mayor Paul Harpole said.
The new veterinary college will be built in Amarillo on the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center campus, which headquarters the School of Pharmacy and is home to the schools of Medicine, Nursing and Health Professions.
“The Amarillo Economic Development Corporation is proud to be a part of this investment in our community,” said Doug Nelson, interim president and CEO of the AEDC. “Aside from the innovative educational opportunities the TTUHSC College of Veterinary Medicine will offer to our local and regional students, this initiative is an investment into the future of the animal science and food technology industries in our region. The partnerships that will develop as a result of the new campus will solidify our area as an optimal location for companies interested in expansion or innovation opportunities in these two rapidly growing sectors.”
In a report approved by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board in July, the need to address the critical shortage of rural and large-animal veterinarians in Texas was reinforced and a door was opened for Texas Tech to move forward with its plans to create a veterinary medicine college in Amarillo.
Texas Tech proposed a non-traditional model for a veterinary school when plans were announced in December. Building on established strengths at two of its universities, Texas Tech University and the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, the Texas Tech University System is creating a program tailored to address a specific need as identified by the report in a cost-efficient and innovative manner.
“Texas has a severe shortage of rural veterinarians who are crucial to the foundations of our economy, the vibrancy of our communities and the safety of our food supply,” Duncan said. “There is no better place to transform the future of veterinary education and answer this call than in Amarillo, the heart of our nation’s livestock production.”
Unlike any other in the United States, the new college will enrich the practice of veterinary medicine by producing practice-ready veterinarians who serve and enhance rural communities throughout Texas while substantially reducing the cost of education at the same time. Texas Tech’s model increases accessibility and affordability, while not duplicating the state’s existing veterinary medicine efforts.