UAF signs veterinary program agreement with Colorado State University
Elika Roohi/Sun Star Reporter
Jan. 28, 2014
UAF and Colorado State University have reached an agreement for a pre-veterinary program that has been in the works for several years. The new program will open the doors for Alaska students interested in going to veterinary school. The deal was signed into agreement in December.
Up until this point, Alaskan students interested in working with animals have been going out-of-state. When Todd O’Hara started working at UAF 10 years ago, he was asked to be the advisor for students wanting to complete pre-veterinary program coursework. At the time, there wasn’t a program here, which made his responsibilities challenging.
Interested students formed a Pre-Vet Club, which currently has around 30 members.
However, the club didn’t change the reality that getting admitted to out-of-state veterinary programs was competitive and expensive.
Two years ago, the Board of Regents asked Chancellor Brian Rogers why there wasn’t a veterinary training program in Alaska.
“So the chancellor came to a bunch of us that were bio-medical science and also veterinarians, and asked, ‘Is there a way we can do this?’” O’Hara said.
Since then, UAF has been working on establishing a program to prepare Alaska pre-vet students.
In December, UAF and CSU, a university with one of the top veterinary schools in the country, made the program official.
Students accepted into the program will spend their first two years at UAF, and then finish their degree at CSU. This type of program is called a “two plus two” and is becoming more common in universities across the country to curb costs of expensive programs.
UAF will accept up to 10 Alaska students into the program each year, so when the program is in full swing, there will be around 20 pre-vet students at the university. The program will start in the fall of 2015.
The agreement for tuition will cut the edge off some of the out-of-state tuition costs. Alaska residents will pay Colorado’s in-state tuition, around $27,000 per year at UAF for their first two years of university, and CSU’s out-of-state tuition, which is around $54,000 per year for their last two years in Colorado.
It’s not just a one-way street, according to O’Hara. Students at CSU are excited about the access to opportunities in Alaska.
“It’s really cool because they’ll have the opportunity to engage in some summer research programs in Fairbanks,” said Dean Hendrickson, the associate dean for professional veterinary medicine at CSU. Hendrickson also said they hoped to have UAF faculty Skype in for video lectures occasionally.
The program will emphasize a “one-health approach,” according to O’Hara. “We want to consider eco-systems, animal and human health together in all the things we do,” O’Hara said. “In the state of Alaska of course, many of our communities and cultures are tied in with the environment and animals. So Colorado is very interested in that too.”
“We really want it to be a partnership where our students gain from the Fairbanks expertise, and their students gain from our expertise. We share research projects. And really grow a program that includes both of the schools instead of just hiring us to teach their students,” Hendrickson said.