COE extends probation for Tuskegee’s veterinary school

Status of University of Arizona's bid for accreditation unclear

April 29, 2016 (published)
By Jennifer Fiala

Veterinary education at the University of Tuskegee needs improvement, according to accreditors. 

A notice published Thursday by the Council on Education reveals that the accrediting body found at least one “major deficiency” with the program’s curriculum during a site visit held in January. The school has one year to fix the problem, which isn't identified in the COE's notice. 

The COE is a volunteer body within the American Veterinary Medical Association, authorized by the U.S. Department of Education to serve as a programmatic accreditor of domestic veterinary education. The COE also evaluates some foreign programs.  

The COE report reflects actions it took during a meeting in late March. In addition to the problem at Tuskegee, various minor deficiencies were found at the University of Guelph, Michigan State University, Université de Lyon, Murdoch University, The Ohio State University and Texas A&M University. The accreditation status of these programs remains intact. 

Fledgling colleges at the Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, Tennessee, and Midwest University in Glendale, Arizona, were granted continual provisional accreditation, which gives them five years to fully comply with the COE’s 11 accreditation standards. 

The report offers no news on the University of Arizona’s (UA) controversial bid to open America’s 31st veterinary medical program, which was on the COE’s March agenda. A comprehensive site visit was conducted in January, and the site team's report remains under the COE’s review, said Sharon Granskog, an AVMA communication official.

“… The council’s decision on a letter of reasonable assurance will be posted on the public section of the AVMA website within 30 days of the final decision,” she said by email. 

Reasonable assurance does not confer accreditation but is a first step toward earning provisional accreditation and, ultimately, full accreditation. The classification means the developing program has demonstrated that it has a realistic plan for complying with COE standards. A college granted reasonable assurance must offer admission to and matriculate its first class of students within three years. 

On the UA website, officials with the program say they expect the COE will grant the letter of reasonable assurance this month and anticipate admitting an inaugural class in August. “Applications wil be announced on the website as soon as we receive the letter from the accreditation body …,” reads a statement. 

So far, that hasn’t happened. UA officials did not respond immediately to requests for comment. 

Neither did officials at Tuskegee.

The program, rumored to suffer financial and resource woes, initially was put on probation by the COE following a comprehensive site visit in 2013. That probationary period wasn’t supposed to exceed two years. 

School officials addressed the COE’s previous reprimand on the program’s website, noting that “immediate steps” were being taken to develop a plan to address reported deficiencies, which were never identified in detail publicly.

It’s unknown whether the curriculum deficiencies found during a site visit in January reflect new or ongoing problems. COE members voted during the group’s March meeting to extend the school’s probationary accreditation for “good cause.” 

According to COE documents, probationary accreditation is granted when a college has one or more major deficiencies that have more than a minimal impact on student learning or safety. While on probation, the college must submit progress reports to the COE every six months.  

Editor's note: Following this article's publication, Dr. Ruby Perry, dean of Tuskegee's veterinary school, addressed the COE's report, stating that officials have a "fresh outlook on the future" after correcting all deficiencies identified by the COE in 2013 except for one, which involves curriculum. By email, she said: "All of the other seven deficiencies have been removed. The AVMA-COE recently sent a report after its focused site visit this past January, granting a one-year extension to Tuskegee to meet the requirements."

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