STILLWATER – The final passage of HB 2863 today created the Oklahoma State University Veterinary Medicine Authority (OSUVMA), securing long-term support for clinical training at the OSU College of Veterinary Medicine.
The OSUVMA will support clinical faculty, student training and the veterinary teaching hospital, similar to how the OSU Medical Authority and the University Hospitals Authority support the state’s medical schools.
“One of my hopes for this academic year was to have an intentional focus on the College of Veterinary Medicine,” said OSU President Kayse Shrum. “I want to thank lawmakers, especially Kevin Wallace of the Oklahoma House of Representatives and Chris Kidd of the Senate, for leading the charge to support what is a crown jewel for Oklahoma — the only veterinary college in the state.
“This is a major step forward, not just for OSU, but for all who rely on crucial veterinary services, both at OSU’s veterinary teaching hospital and through our network of skilled graduates who are making a difference in communities across the state. This support will be key in the university’s commitment to addressing challenges in the One Health arena, which is a focus of the university’s larger strategy.”
As the only veterinary college in Oklahoma and one of only 33 in the nation, OSU CVM plays a critical role in training veterinary professionals who are vital to the health and financial well-being of Oklahoma. This legislation is especially important since Oklahoma faces a shortage of veterinary professionals in a state where extensive animal husbandry is an economic cornerstone.
“This will have a major impact, not only on the college but the state as a whole,” said Dr. Carlos Risco, OSU CVM dean. “I am grateful for everyone involved in helping secure the OSUVMA. This authority will allow the college to expand its efforts in order to fulfill its mission of being innovators in veterinary medical education, animal and human health.”
Risco said the authority will have public health implications as it will aid in sustaining diagnostic services to agricultural producers and the continuation of research to improve human and animal health, furthering OSU’s strategic One Health goals.
One Health is an approach that recognizes human health is closely connected to animal health and our shared environment. Experts estimate that up to 75% of new or emerging infectious diseases will come from animals. Given the increasing prevalence of zoonotic diseases, the continuation of groundbreaking research into One Health — particularly on diseases of economic importance in Oklahoma — is a key factor in securing better health outcomes for Oklahomans.
“Nothing illustrated the need for an approach rooted in One Health more than the COVID-19 pandemic,” said OSU Center for Health Sciences President Johnny Stephens. “Now, more than ever, we need to secure a solid foundation for the OSU College of Veterinary Medicine to help ensure we educate the veterinarians and researchers of the future.”
The CVM also plays a significant role in OSU’s strategy to become the nation’s preeminent land-grant university. Prioritizing the state’s only veterinary medicine program and only veterinary teaching hospital fit within OSU’s mandate to serve agricultural food producers and families.
“I am pleased to see the Oklahoma legislature take this important step in establishing an authority to build a stronger College of Veterinary Medicine and hospital at Oklahoma State University,” said Rodd Moesel, Oklahoma Farm Bureau president. “This legislation represents a critical investment in the future of our state’s agricultural industry and will ensure that we have the skilled professionals we need to continue to help us grow and innovate. I commend our lawmakers for their foresight and commitment to the success of our farmers and ranchers, and I look forward to seeing the positive impact this legislation will have on our state.”
Wallace and Kidd coauthored the bill, which they believe will have a lasting impact on Oklahoma.
“Oklahoma State University has long been a leader in animal health in Oklahoma,” Wallace said. “This bill will provide the college with the support it needs to educate a critical veterinary workforce and build a solid and longlasting future for the College of Veterinary Medicine. Families and the state’s agricultural producers will benefit as more highly qualified veterinarians graduate from the program, bringing their expertise and in-demand skills to communities across the state. I am honored to have carried this important and impactful piece of legislation.”
As the Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee chairman and a fifth-generation Oklahoma cattle producer, Kidd understands Oklahoma needs veterinarians, particularly large animal veterinarians.
“Quality vets are critical to the economy, from the level of the individual ranch to the state as a whole,” Kidd said. “As an OSU alumnus, I was honored to be a leader on this bill of support for the OSU College of Veterinary Medicine. It’s an opportunity to build a long-term sustainable veterinary medicine program and position the school as a leader in training the next generation of veterinary professionals.”