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Daemen to partner with Tennessee university to train veterinarians

When an unusual plan for a new veterinary school at the former Millard Fillmore Gates Circle Hospital unraveled in 2013, the need for more veterinarians didn’t evaporate with it. Now, one local college has come up with a new approach for area students seeking to become veterinarians.

Daemen College officials announced Monday morning that the college will partner with Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, Tenn., on a program to provide interested undergraduate students a head start on their doctor of veterinary medicine studies.

The collaboration will trim a year off of the traditional academic path toward becoming a veterinarian – four years of undergraduate studies, followed by four years in a veterinary medicine program.

In the accelerated program, Daemen students will be able to attend the Amherst college for three years and advance to the four-year veterinary medicine program at Lincoln Memorial University, which is located about a 10-hour drive south of Buffalo. A bachelor’s degree in natural sciences from Daemen would be awarded to veterinary students who complete their first year at Lincoln Memorial University. Students will continue their veterinary studies for three more years at Lincoln Memorial University.

“This is a big deal because there’s a deficit of veterinarian programs around the country,” said Daemen President Gary A. Olson. “There are more people who want to become vets and too few slots for them to go to school.”

Olson signed the agreement Monday along with Glen F. Hoffsis, dean of the Lincoln Memorial University College of Veterinary Medicine.

The U.S. has 30 veterinary schools, just three of which are located in the Northeast. Cornell University is the closest to Western New York.

The small number of schools has meant that the demand for veterinary education historically has exceeded supply. But the American Veterinary Medical Association issued a report in January stating that the rising cost of veterinary education could lead to reduced demand in the future.

Daemen has long offered a pre-veterinary medicine studies program at its Main Street campus, although the program has not been popular with students.

Olson said he expects that to change under the new collaboration with Lincoln.

Lincoln Memorial University, which dates back to 1897, launched its College of Veterinary Medicine in 2014. Tuition currently is $40,241 a year for veterinary students.

The collaboration received support from Chason Affinity Companies, the local real estate management and development firm that in 2012 presented a $65 million proposal to create a school of veterinary medicine at the nearly 10-acre site of the former Millard Fillmore Gates Circle Hospital.

Company president Mark Chason serves on Daemen’s Community Advisory Board.

Kaleida Health, owner of the hospital property, originally awarded Chason designated developer status at the site. But Kaleida ended its agreement with Chason in 2013, after negotiations with a for-profit veterinary college in the Caribbean fell apart.

Another developer, Uniland, is now looking to redevelop the former hospital, with an emphasis on housing.