The Arizona Board of Regents is expected to vote in two weeks to approve an $8 million renovation of the Oro Valley building that will house the University of Arizona’s new veterinary medicine program.
If approved by the board, renovations on the UA’s newest campus, near North Oracle Road and North First Avenue, can begin in July 2018, with completion scheduled in 2019.
The state-funded renovations will include classrooms, laboratories and veterinary surgical suites.
“It’s a 30-year-old building. Most of the renovation is in infrastructure,” said David Besselsen, UA veterinarian and director of university animal care. “The configuration of the floor plan is good.”
The Oro Valley campus was chosen because the university owned the building. It is also the right size and already includes labs and ventilation.
“Oro Valley is a wonderful community. There’s a biotech presence there. Veterinary medicine has feet in both health science and agriculture. It’s a nice fit for what (the College of Veterinary Medicine) needs at this point,” Besselsen said.
The renovation project to create the veterinary school campus was announced in September 2015 and was expected to be operational in 2016 and begin enrolling students in 2017, according to a 2015 UA news release.
Plans were stalled when the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Council on Education rejected the school’s accreditation in August 2015, citing a lack of program planning.
The UA then requested an appeal hearing and lost in November 2016.
Accreditation was rejected again in April, but the association’s council allowed the UA to reapply in June instead of waiting the standard year.
The UA hopes to begin enrolling students as soon as the association gives approval and renovations are finished, Besselsen said.
The school will be open year-round, allowing students who have met prerequisites to obtain their degrees faster and cheaper — the UA touts that the schedule will save Arizona students up to a quarter of a million dollars in tuition — than a typical program.
The school will also participate in the One Health initiative, which aims to foster cross-disciplinary collaboration to improve health care for humans, animals and the environment.
The regents will meet Nov. 16-17 on the UA campus.