A new School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore will be the first of its kind in Maryland and among the nation’s public historically Black colleges and universities. The school, slated to accept students in fall 2026, received approval Jan. 16 by the Maryland Higher Education Commission.

“Our new veterinary medicine school will help UMES fill an unmet need on the Eastern Shore and throughout the state,” said UMES President Dr. Heidi M. Anderson. “Deeply rooted in our 1890 land-grant mission, this program will enable us to serve farmers, the food industry and the 50% of Marylanders who own a pet. It will also increase both the diversity of the profession and address the workforce needs of the industry. We’re deeply grateful to both MHEC and the Maryland Board of Regents for the widespread support this program has garnered.”

MHEC’s approval came Jan. 16, while the University System of Maryland Board of Regents was received mid-December 2023. The timing could not be more appropriate, according to UMES’ Dean of the School of Agricultural and Natural Sciences Moses T. Kairo, who has helped lead the program from inception toward actualization.

 “In terms of demand based on labor statistics, we are looking at 19% projected growth in the field over the next seven years,” Kairo said. “Black veterinarians make up only 3% of the population in this country, indicating a tremendous need to diversify the profession.”

Compared to traditional four-year programs, the proposed school calls for three-year completion. This “innovative approach” will allow UMES veterinary students to learn the same critical components found in existing programs but more expeditiously.

“Our goal is to use student time more effectively in order to graduate students a year earlier,” Kairo said. The proposed target is to graduate 100 students per year.

A consultative visit from the American Veterinary Medicine Association-Council on Education is expected to occur in the latter part of this year.

The university is proceeding with advocacy, fundraising and planning for infrastructural developments, Kairo said, and an interim founding dean has been named. Dr. Kimberly Braxton, an assistant professor and veterinarian at UMES, will hold the post until a successful search for a permanent dean next year.

Gail Stephens, agricultural communications, University of Maryland Eastern Shore, School of Agricultural and Natural Sciences, UMES Extension, gcstephens@umes.edu, 410-621-3850.

Photos by Todd Dudek, Ag Communications, University of Maryland Eastern Shore, School of Agricultural and Natural Sciences, UMES Extension, tdudek@umes.edu.

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