Tech pulls plug on vet school in Amarillo

I was disappointed to hear the other day that the Texas Tech University Board of Regents has decided against seeking money to create a school of veterinary medicine in Amarillo.

The money would have come from the Texas Legislature, which I am quite certain has gotten its share of pressure from Texas A&M University to spend the money on, um, other priorities.

Tech had floated the notion of creating a veterinary school in Amarillo as a way to create a pool of medical professionals who would serve the cattle and horse industries that are so prevalent in this part of the world.

Tech, though, got some immediate push back from A&M, which has a first-rate veterinary medicine program already — but none in Amarillo or elsewhere in the Texas Panhandle.

The systems happen to be run by two men with extensive legislative experience, I hasten to add. Tech’s chancellor is former state Sen. Bob Duncan, the Lubbock Republican who gave up his Senate seat to take the chancellorship at his alma mater; the A&M chancellor happens to be John Sharp, a former Democratic state senator from Victoria who’s also held elected posts as a Texas railroad commissioner and comptroller of public accounts.

I don’t know what kind of relationship these men have, but they no doubt now are rivals for a depleted source of revenue that would pay for the establishment of a veterinary medicine school.

Let’s also acknowledge the presence of a third state senator with something to say about this notion. That would be Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo, who happens to chair the Senate’s Higher Education Committee. Didn’t the chairman see a need to fight for Tech’s veterinary school — which would serve his sprawling West Texas Senate district?

I believe a Texas Tech veterinary school would be good for the state, good for Amarillo and the region and good for the university system. A&M officials seemed intent on torpedoing the idea from the get-go, suggesting that there is insufficient demand for a veterinary medicine school to justify an Amarillo campus run by a competing university system.

So, Texas Tech’s regents say they won’t seek money this legislative session to finance development of a veterinary school in Amarillo. They have other pressing needs … they said.

Fine. I just don’t want this idea to get buried under a pile of manure.

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