AAVMC spurns third-party rankings of veterinary colleges

U.S. News and World Report scale breeds friction, leaders say

September 12, 2008 (published)
By Jennifer Fiala

Washington — Grading the quality of veterinary medical institutions should be left up to accrediting bodies, not publications like U.S. News and World Report.

That’s the gist of a formal statement adopted by the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC), which “neither endorses nor acknowledges third-party ranking systems” of veterinary medical programs.

“We assert that as accredited institutions, the colleges of veterinary medicine all provide high-quality education to students,” the AAVMC statement says.

Yet that was not clear in last year’s U.S. News list, which crowned Cornell University’s veterinary medical program No. 1 in the nation. College officials immediately issued a press release announcing the distinction, including a statement that the program has “consistently been ranked at the top since 2000.”

Such an assessment has “been the source of much friction without our schools,” says Lisa Greenhill, AAVMC associate executive director for diversity. “We are now going very much on the record by saying we do not acknowledge this system. Accreditation is the benchmark by which we measure quality.”

AAVMC’s position comes as U.S. News releases its 2009 graduate school rankings. Veterinary medicine is not included in the publication’s latest report because rankings of health programs are compiled every four years. According to the publication’s Web site, grading is the product of peer evaluations — directors and faculty within veterinary medical institutions are asked to rate the quality of each program assessed.

“One way of getting at the quality of a graduate program is to survey the people in the people in the best position to have an informed opinion — academics who administer and teach these programs and people who hire or work directly with graduates of these programs,” the Web site states.

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