Arizona Names Interim Dean for Proposed Veterinary College
The University of Arizona has appointed Dr. David Besselsen as interim dean of the UA's planned College of Veterinary Medicine.
"I am excited about this new opportunity, which I view as a natural extension of my current administrative duties," said Besselsen, attending veterinarian and director of University Animal Care, or UAC, which manages the UA's multiple animal facilities and oversees the campuswide animal care and use program.
The UA is seeking provisional accreditation from the American Veterinary Medical Association Council on Education, which will conduct a site visit in spring 2019. Besselsen said his focus will be on coordinating accreditation materials, preparing academic and clinical facilities, and developing a sustainable financial model that provides an affordable and accessible veterinary medical education program for Arizona's citizens.
Besselsen will be assisted by Mark Cushing, a policy adviser and attorney in the animal health sector, whose track record includes helping three other educational institutions secure accreditation. Multiple veterinarians who serve on the UA faculty or practice in Arizona also will participate in development of the program.
"David is intimately familiar with the history and evolution of the veterinary medicine program, and has contributed ideas that have helped us reach our current status," UA Provost Andrew Comrie said. "He is the perfect person to lead the strong team we have in place to facilitate the establishment of a College of Veterinary Medicine that will make the UA proud."
The interim dean will report to Comrie and will work closely with Shane Burgess, vice president for agriculture, life and veterinary sciences, and Cooperative Extension.
Besselsen graduated from the veterinary school at the University of Missouri, Columbia, in 1988, and worked in private practice for two years before returning to his alma mater to complete residency training and earn a doctorate in pathobiology.
He joined the UA in 1995 as an associate veterinary specialist and chief of pathology services for UAC. He was promoted to veterinary specialist in 2002, assistant director in 2006 and director in 2012. Besselsen also has appointments in the BIO5 Institute, Arizona Cancer Center, and School of Animal and Comparative Biomedical Sciences.
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. It is believed that veterinarians who graduate from a UA program will be more likely to stay in Arizona, and that those with less debt can better afford to practice in rural areas.