OSU envisions more staff and a new hospital

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OSU envisions more staff and a new hospital

Veterinary school's five-year plan depends heaving on philanthropy
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Feb 01, 2009

COLUMBUS, OHIO — One of the nation's largest veterinary colleges is currently without a permanent dean and squeezed for state funding, but released a new five-year strategic plan that includes adding at least 12 new faculty positions and building a new hospital.

The Ohio State University (OSU) College of Veterinary Medicine's strategic plan outlines its strengths, which include a strong level of recognition, a high number of applicants and well-developed research programs, but focuses more on the weaknesses, which range from low faculty numbers to a lack of diversity.

The strategic planning process began across the OSU system about two years ago when new Provost Joseph Alutto took over, says Melissa Weber, public relations director for OSU's College of Veterinary Medicine.

"It's really just a way to focus in on our strengths and use our money more wisely," Weber says, adding that the economy hasn't really changed the plans, originally formulated a year ago, which depend heavily on donations. "It's a long-term plan, so I think maybe we thought we could get this all done in three years, now it might take six or seven."

About $20 million would need to be raised in new donations to meet the school's goal of building a new Small Animal Medical Center and renovate the existing Veterinary Teaching Hospital. The plan to raise the money for the project includes expected donations from 80 percent of faculty and staff members, contributions from at least 15 percent of alumni and more face-to-face visits to potential new donors.

A new small-animal hospital is critical to the university, Weber says, but in the short term, the school is making do with renovations to existing facilities.

Another large undertaking in the plan is to increase faculty members by at least 12 over the next five years to narrow the student-to-faculty ratio, which the college says is almost twice the average of similar institutions. Some of the planned faculty additions could include a veterinary epidemiologist, a neurosurgeon, an oncologist, a food-animal clinician for an expanded dairy program and a specialist on zoonotic diseases.

With the increase in staff, OSU hopes to improve diversity among the college's faculty, of which only 9 percent are minorities, compared to an average of 16 percent among other veterinary schools, according to the report.

An increase in student scholarships and endowments also is noted in the strategic plan to make up for "dramatic" increases to the cost of student education over the last decade.

"Veterinary students graduate with debt that averages $100,000, and they face the prospect of spending their entire careers retiring this debt," the report states.

The plan to alleviate this burden, according to the report, includes allocating a portion of the college's Development Office to building a student scholarship endowment and increasing the amount of available scholarship funds by 30 percent from a total of $250,000 to $330,000.

Research expenditures also are expected to increase from $11 million to $14 million over the course of the plan's five years, and that increase could be generated by grant awards and applications to government-funded programs, the report states.

Finally, the college hopes to expand its influence by creating new partnerships with outside institutions, including but not limited to other veterinary colleges, and developing a new interdisciplinary program focused on livestock and poultry diseases, as well as other aspects of food safety.

To read the full report on the plan, visit http://www.vet.ohio-state.edu/StrategicPlan.htm.