Hanover College joins list of budding veterinary programs

Dr. Christina Tran named dean; program aims to open in 2026

January 16, 2024 (published)

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Screenshot of Hanover College Facebook page
Hanover College in Indiana is launching a "hybrid, accelerated" veterinary program that, if accredited, will welcome at least 80 students in August 2026.

Institutions are unveiling veterinary colleges at an unprecedented clip. The latest is at Hanover College, a private school of 1,157 students in southern Indiana. 

The announcement last month by Hanover brings the number of emerging veterinary schools in the United States to 12. Each of these institutions aims to tackle a perceived national shortage of practitioners. The last time veterinary education experienced a comparable growth spurt was in the 1970s, when eight of the nation's 33 programs were established.

If all goes as expected, Indiana will be home to two veterinary schools when Hanover opens with at least 80 seats in 2026. The other is at Purdue University in West Lafayette. The combined efforts of both programs could more than double the annual graduation count of veterinary students in the state. Purdue, with its usual yearly graduation of 84 students, has recently expanded its teaching hospital and now can accommodate 120 students.

Moving forward requires a nod from the American Veterinary Medical Association Council on Education, the nation's accrediting authority for veterinary schools. Hanover has initiated the accreditation process by requesting a consultative site visit, a requirement set by the COE to assess the readiness of a program for accreditation. 

In brief

Tapped to lead the venture is Dr. Christina Tran, clinical relations lead veterinarian and associate professor at the relatively new University of Arizona College of Veterinary Medicine, which graduated its first class this year. In a news release dated Dec. 2, Tran said she's "thrilled" to be the founding dean of Hanover's "innovative program that has the potential to redefine veterinary education."  

Reached by the VIN News Service, Tran declined to speak publicly about Hanover until she's settled into her new job. Her first day as dean is Feb. 5.

Dr. Julie Funk, dean of the UA veterinary school, said Tran had experience implementing alternative education approaches and creating innovative curricula and has played a significant role in advancing the clinical veterinary program at UA. In an email to VIN News, she described her as "invaluable."

At UA, Tran observed the construction of the veterinary college and contributed to its evolution, Funk said. Upon opening in 2020, the program became the nation's first to adopt a continuous curriculum spread across three years and nine semesters with no summer break, deviating from the conventional four-year model. The shortened timeframe is intended to accelerate students' graduation, thereby alleviating some of the financial strain associated with education.

Programs in the pipeline

Hanover is embracing a comparable three-year model. 

According to the announcement, Hanover's year-round veterinary program also will be divided into nine semesters. The initial four semesters will cover topics such as animal anatomy and physiology, clinical communication and simulation-based surgical and medical skills. The fifth and sixth semesters will emphasize field-based clinical courses and patient care. Clinical rotations will be assigned to students in the seventh, eighth and ninth semesters.

A $5.9 million grant received in 2022 through Indiana's statewide Regional Economic Acceleration and Development Initiative will help cover an estimated $16.5 million in facilities and operational start-up costs that will involve renovating and constructing buildings on Hanover's campus and hiring faculty and staff.

By adopting a distributed learning model, Hanover eliminates the need to build a traditional teaching hospital, which can cost tens of millions of dollars. In this approach, students engage in clinical education by participating in rotations within affiliated private and public practices rather than relying on an on-campus teaching hospital.

The program also will integrate a veterinary technician curriculum in partnership with nearby Ivy Tech Community College, which plans to offer an associate degree program that graduates registered veterinary technicians. This partnership, one of five in the U.S., facilitates joint training opportunities for doctoral and technician students, according to the Hanover announcement. Under the cooperative agreement, Ivy Tech will use Hanover's teaching center for free but share operational expenses based on student enrollments.

Officials at Hanover are hoping to graduate veterinarians who want to work in the state's agricultural sector. Nearly half of Indiana's 92 counties are listed as underserved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Indiana State Board of Animal Health. The shortage is so critical that state lawmakers created a new office last year called the Center for Animal Policy to study the issue. 

"Indiana is an agricultural state with a growing biotech and agriscience industry," stated Hanover President Lake Lambert in a news release. "To support all of those needs, Indiana needs more trained veterinary professionals, and this program is going to make that possible."

Hanover has not set tuition for the veterinary school. Undergraduate tuition and fees total $52,686 a year, excluding housing costs. Tuition and fees for the college's two professional programs, the Doctor of Physical Therapy and Doctor of Occupational Therapy, are comparable. If costs to attend Hanover's veterinary school are similar, it would rank among the nation's pricier programs.

At state-supported Purdue, tuition and fees for resident veterinary students hover around $30,000 a year. Non-residents, however, pay twice that.

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