BENTONVILLE — The Arkansas Higher Education Coordinating Board approved Arkansas State University's plan for a College of Veterinary Medicine on Friday.
The approval of the state's first public veterinary medicine school is a step in the process to open such a school in Arkansas. Officials will forward the state's approval to the national accrediting agencies associated with veterinary colleges.
"Today is another milestone for residents of the state of Arkansas and for our significant agricultural industry," said A-State Chancellor Todd Shields in a statement. "We appreciate the approval of the coordinating board and we are looking ahead to becoming the university of choice for those residents who want to become veterinarians. Right now, everyone who dreams of becoming a vet has to leave the state. That's a hardship to them, and to their families."
Arkansas, which has a significant agricultural sector, does not have a veterinary school. The state ranks 49th in the U.S. for veterinarians per population, with 14 veterinarians per 100,000 people, according to veterians.org,
In addition to A-State in Jonesboro, Lyon College — a private higher education institution in Batesville — is planning to open a veterinary medicine college in Little Rock.
The state higher education board met Friday in Bentonville, home of Northwest Arkansas Community College, the state's largest two-year school.