Guns up for a planned TTU veterinary school

Tech betting states sides with it instead of Texas A&M expansion

Would a new veterinary school in the Texas Panhandle benefit Gillespie County’s aspiring animal docs? Texas Tech University thinks so, but Texas A&M University likes its current monopoly and has pull at every level.

A column in the June 27 Dallas Morning News by commentator Jay Leeson pointed out how TTU has been sowing the seeds for a new school for a while, but how A&M might throw a wrench into their plans.

Robert Duncan, former state senator and now chancellor of the Texas Tech University System, has been a longtime advocate for a veterinary school in the Panhandle. The Panhandle produces $15 billion in livestock industry revenue, but it’s closer to vet schools in Colorado and Oklahoma than the sole Texas school at College Station.

So, Duncan has worked for the past three years to pursue a $90-million large-animal vet school in Amarillo. Those plans began even before the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board said in 2016 that A&M wasn’t producing enough large-animal vets to serve all the rural areas in the state.

But A&M Chancellor John Sharp seems to want to maintain the veterinary monopoly that the Aggies have maintained for decades (and doing a great job with, it should be added). One month after Tech’s plan became public, Sharp announced that a new veterinary complex and program in College Station would feed their campuses at West Texas A&M (Canyon), Tarleton State (Stephenville), Prairie View A&M and Texas A&M-Kingsville. When people from those campuses graduated, they would, hopefully, go back and serve their rural markets.

And last March, Sharp announced a $90-million investment at the West Texas A&M campus in the Panhandle to create a “two-way superhighway” between Canyon and College Station. A&M’s clout and fundraising prowess is easy to see.

But Tech isn’t giving up. The Amarillo Economic Development Alliance pledged $69 million to help Tech with its $90 million goal for the facility.

Now the Legislature will get involved, Leeson wrote, the lawmakers will have to decide which plan to put state dollars behind. A&M, of course, has a great history with veterinary medicine. But Texas Tech’s experience with its Health Sciences Center in Lubbock (with a satellite campus in El Paso) has served the medical community well.

No bull in the pasture is bigger than Texas A&M where funding is concerned. But TTU is forward-looking and nimble and Duncan knows his way around the Capitol. Given that Fredericksburg plays a part of Texas Tech’s future, we can’t help but say, “Guns up” to a Tech veterinary facility. – K.E.C.

Fredericksburg Standard

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