If New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has his way, a new college of veterinary medicine soon will open on Long Island.
The governor recently announced plans to spend $12 million in state funds to help establish a veterinary college at Long Island University Post, a private institution in Brookville, Nassau County. LIU Post is one of two main campuses of Long Island University. The allocation is part of a $72 million investment into the economic development of Long Island.
The school is expected to cost $40 million, filling a “void in the academic landscape while generating new opportunities for medical research and jobs creation,” according to a news release.
It's unclear how development of the program will be funded beyond the state's $12 million allocation. Dr. I. Carmen Fuentealba, dean of the prospective veterinary college, could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
Plans for the veterinary college coincide with efforts by LIU to develop an institute for veterinary technology. The New York State Education Department approved LIU’s request for the technology school in December. The four-year veterinary technology program is slated to open this fall. Officials with the program have applied to the Committee on Veterinary Education and Activities, a body within the American Veterinary Medical Association that confers accreditation to veterinary technology programs.
LIU officials recently requested a site visit by the AVMA Council on Education, which accredits U.S. veterinary schools. State officials anticipate that the school can be developed in time to admit its inaugural class in September 2019.
That opening date may be overly ambitious. Earning accreditation from the COE for the first time typically takes years. The COE does not have a site visit for LIU on its agenda, or schedule, which runs through November. It's unlikely that a COE site team will visit LIU before 2019, much less make a determination about accreditation in time for a fall opening.
Like the technology program, opening a veterinary medical program at LIU also requires approval by the New York State Education Department.
Cuomo’s office notes that there are 30 veterinary colleges in the U.S. and “only three in the northeast — none in the New York metropolitan area,” which the press release reports as having the highest concentration of working veterinarians. Three programs exist within 200 miles of Long Island: Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine in Ithaca, New York; University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine in Philadelphia; and the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University in North Grafton, Mass.
The LIU program is anticipated to enroll 100 students per year “with a 97 percent retention rate,” reads the press release.
The program would generate jobs and income, the governor’s office asserted. Supporters liken the size of LIU's prospective veterinary program to that of the Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine in West Lafayette, Indiana, and point to a study by Purdue Extension's Community Development Program that put the veterinary college’s economic output at $220.2 million in 2014.
“LIU already has more than 20 memoranda of understanding and collaborations with well-known institutions, including The Bronx Zoo and North Shore Animal League,” the release stated.