AUA closes veterinary medical program

Students forced to seek education elsewhere

December 12, 2011 (published)
By Jennifer Fiala

The American University of Antigua no longer offers veterinary medical education. Photo: AUA.
American University of Antigua (AUA) abruptly closed its veterinary medical college before Thanksgiving, and officials are in the midst of trying to place its students in other programs.  

A few will be attending the Virginia Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech.

Officials have not responded to inquiries from the VIN News Service seeking details about what led to the program’s demise or how many students are impacted. News of the shut down is not announced on the university’s website, and as of Monday, the web page for the AUA College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences remained active.  

A woman who answered the phone in AUA’s admissions office confirmed the closure, but she declined to offer details. Marie McGillycuddy, executive director of enrollment management, did not respond to phone calls and an email from the VIN News Service. Faculty and administrators affiliated with the veterinary college could not be reached.

AUA opened its doors in 2004, as an institution focused on human medical education that caters to students from the United States. Nursing and medical programs initially were established. The veterinary college opened in 2009, and accepted its inaugural class in January 2010.  

It is unclear from the university’s website how many veterinary students attended the program. Situated on the island of Antigua, it’s billed as “the only veterinary college program in the Caribbean that offers select students the opportunity to earn a DVM from a U.S. veterinary college.”

Translation: Some veterinary students who started out at the AUA College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences expected to ultimately earn their DVM degrees from Virginia-Maryland. In addition to spending their third and fourth years of clinical studies at Virginia-Maryland, students from AUA also would need to complete an extra semester.

The arrangement is unlike those of other Caribbean-based veterinary schools, which also send students to U.S.-accredited veterinary colleges in America for clinical education. The difference is that those students still graduate from their respective off-shore programs, where they complete their veterinary classroom and laboratory education.  

“By teaming with Virginia Tech, one of the best veterinary colleges in the country, AUA has established a new model for earning a degree in veterinary medicine,” said Neal J. Simon, AUA president and co-founder, at a press briefing in New York City held in 2009.  

Simon is the former president of Ross University, which founded a veterinary school on St. Kitts in the West Indies in 1982. In March, the school became the first of several veterinary medical programs based in the Caribbean to earn U.S. accreditation

AUA was said to be modeling its curriculum after that of Virginia-Maryland. But there was no collaboration on how to administer the program, said Michael Sutphin, Virginia-Maryland public relations coordinator.  

In an email to the VIN News Service, Sutphin noted that Virginia-Maryland wasn’t the only college to have a contractual relationship with AUA. The Caribbean program also had ties to the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies at The University of Edinburgh and The University of Nottingham, both in the United Kingdom.

“Our contract with AUA involved potential transfer of a small number of students. Three students have been accepted for transfer in 2012, and we look forward to them joining us,” Sutphin said.  

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