In three weeks, the calendar will finally turn to 2021, which will initiate the last phase of the countdown to the start of classes at the Texas Tech University School of Veterinary Medicine. The numerous moving parts in the ambitious enterprise are continuing to come together, despite the continuing challenges associated with COVID-19.

Earlier this week, the Amarillo City Council received an update during its virtual meeting. From all indications, it continues to be full speed ahead, according to the school’s dean, Guy Loneragan.

“…We are on track, on time, on budget and definitely we are open for business,” he said in our story. “This really began last September when we had our groundbreaking.”

From the moment the idea of a vet school began to take shape, Amarillo and the surrounding area have been all-in as far as support. There is no doubt the new school, part of Texas Tech’s Amarillo footprint, will have a tremendous economic impact. “We certainly realize we are here because of what the community has done for us – getting behind raising the money and supporting the program,” Loneragan said during his presentation.

There have been other bits of good news emerge on the vet school front recently. Jerry Black, a visiting professor with the vet school, was named to the nominating committee charged with selecting the board of directors for the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act Authority. Black brought impeccable credentials to the school when he joined the faculty in May, another example of the world-class talent catching Tech’s expansive vision.

The school, established in 2018 and funded by the legislature in the 2019 state budget, also has seen progress on the administrative front, receiving approval from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and a letter of reasonable assurance from the American Veterinary Medical Association. That approval paved the way for the vet school to begin the admissions process, which began in late September.

According to Loneragan, Tech has had nearly 700 prospective students begin an application with almost 500 completing it. “The vast majority of these applicants are qualified and Texas residents,” he said. “We have a fantastic pool to interview and then offer positions – but we only have 60 positions in our first year.”

The school’s historic first day of classes is scheduled for Sept. 21. Construction continues to be on schedule or ahead of schedule, and the building is expected to be finished next summer.

What was projected to happen with the vet school’s approval and funding is happening. Great faculty continue to join the team, and the demand for a coveted spot in the school’s first class of students far exceeds the number of available spots, assuring an excellent initial group.

“All of us are excited to be a part of this community,” Loneragan told council members. “We are looking for all opportunities to partner with the city on so many shared goals.”

As expected, the vet school will be transformative for Amarillo and the Panhandle. In addition to the economic impact, it will bring additional prestige to a community with a long and proud educational history.

The countdown continues, and the future gets a little brighter every day.

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