Posted October 26, 2011 by Donald F. Smith, Cornell University
Ross University’s veterinary school on the island of St. Kitts in the Caribbean is having a banner year. In March, they became accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association, and yesterday they announced the hiring of Dr. Elaine Watson as their next dean.
An internationally-recognized scholar in veterinary reproduction and seasoned administrator―she has served as dean of the veterinary school at the University of Edinburgh since 2003― Dr. Watson will bring experience in international veterinary medicine to a program that has until now been largely U.S. focused. She succeeds Dean David DeYoung.
The veterinary program at Ross University is one of three medical schools in the region owned by DeVry, Inc., the other two being Ross University School of Medicine and the American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine.
Ross admits three classes of veterinary students each year and graduates approximately 420 students per year (most veterinary colleges on the mainland graduate 80-140 students per year). Because they do not have a comprehensive teaching hospital, Ross students complete their clinical training in an accredited veterinary college in the U.S.
Most Ross students are American citizens, and return to the United States to practice clinical medicine. Over 60% locate in just eight states, either in the northeast (11% of their graduates are in New York State), or in Florida, California, Illinois and Ohio.
Ross University rides the crest of a “back to the future” wave in veterinary education. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, a substantial proportion of veterinarians graduated from private, for-profit veterinary programs. These schools all disappeared by the late 1920s but a similar model for professional education has again emerged with Ross being the largest and best known.
Historically, the most successful of the early proprietary veterinary schools was the Ontario Veterinary College, founded in 1862. American students flocked to Toronto to receive a veterinary degree from the Edinburgh-educated Andrew Smith. Over a century later, another Edinburgh icon, Elaine Watson, has assumed leadership of the largest and most successful private veterinary school serving U.S. students.
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