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Sunday, July 17, 2011

An Interview with the Dean of the Anticipated Veterinary College at Lincoln Memorial University

Posted July 17, 2011
Written by Donald F. Smith, DVM, Cornell University

In a course I give at Cornell on the history of veterinary medicine, I ask students to predict where the next veterinary college will be established. Because most of the 28 current colleges are part of land grant universities in small or moderately-sized cities, we talk about the prospects of building a veterinary college in a large metropolitan area, affiliated with a major medical school and also a school of public health to take advantage of the growing awareness of the need to unite human and animal health.

Some students were surprised, therefore, to read the recent news reports that new veterinary colleges are being considered in small college campuses in rural communities of Magnolia, Arkansas and Harrogate, Tennessee.[1]

Dr. Randy Evans, dean of the proposed
College of Veterinary and Comparative Medicine,
Lincoln Memorial University (Tenn).
Photo provided by Dr. Evans.
To get a better understanding of the anticipated College of Veterinary and Comparative Medicine at Tennessee's Lincoln Memorial University (LMU), I talked to the dean of the new venture, Dr. Randy Evans. A graduate of Auburn University, Evans was program director of two- and four-year veterinary technology programs at LMU for 19 years. He also directs the School of Allied Health Sciences that has programs in medical technology, social work, athletic training and physical therapy. The university has a program in osteopathic medicine.

Lincoln Memorial University is a small, private non-profit university that emphasizes preparing graduates to work in Appalachia and other underserved areas. So when Dr. Evans attended national meetings on veterinary education last year and learned of the emergence of veterinary colleges that use private practices rather than costly university medical centers to teach the practical aspects of clinical medicine, the wheels began to turn back at LMU.

The university also adopted the concept of a six-year combined undergraduate and veterinary degree program, rather than the more typical eight years to complete both curricula. “This will be the first two-plus-four year program in the country”, he told me, “and that will help reduce student debt, which is one of the current impediments to working in rural communities”.

Dr. Evans and his colleagues at LMU are hiring faculty for anticipated opening in fall 2012. An initial visit from the AVMA’s accrediting body is scheduled for this fall. However, many veterinarians are concerned that the recent growth in veterinary enrollment in the 28 established colleges is compromising the ability of new graduates to find meaningful employment at a time when the economic climate remains uncertain. Dr. Evans responds, “We believe that veterinarians can still make a living in Appalachia and other underserved areas if they are willing to roll up their sleeves and work hard”.

Though LMU is located just 50 miles from the Knoxville campus of Tennessee’s current veterinary college, Evans anticipates recruiting students from a national pool because they do not receive direct support from the state.

[1] A third veterinary program is being considered at Midwestern University in Glendale, Arizona, located in Phoenix metro area.

Dr. Smith invites comments at