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Rumors quelled about closing of Tufts vet school

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Apr 29, 2009
North Grafton, Mass. -- Despite rumors swirling about its closure, the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University isn't going anywhere.

Rumors circulated in newspaper accounts after the state cut all funding for the school in its 2010 budget proposal. More than $5 million was budgeted last year. But Dr. Deborah Kochevar, dean of the veterinary school, says this has happened before. The governor's budget has at times included no funding for Tufts vet school, but it usually was added back in the House version of the budget. That didn't happen this time.

"We were disappointed not to get back into the House budget," Kochevar says. "We expect to have budget reductions just like everyone else, but we what we would hope for are reductions similar to others in higher education."

For example, about $416 million, compared to $475 million in 2009, still is budgeted for the University of Massachusetts in 2010, but higher education funding as a whole is facing a 5.5 percent cut in budget projections. The goal is to get close to the state's $3.5 billion budget gap.

Kochevar says the state has tough choices and no cuts are easy to make, whether they are in education, health care or other social services. But she hopes legislators recognize the importance of veterinary school - the only one in New England. Rumors that the school could close without 2010 state funding are way too drastic, Kochevar says.

"The school is not going away. We are and have been dead last in state funding since the beginning of the school, so it's a place that understands how to use other revenue sources," she says. "The expectation would be that we would look hard at how we replace that part of the budget."

Nearly every veterinary college is facing some strife, Kochevar points out. The University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine is facing a 10 percent cut, so is the University of Florida. The University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine. as of April was looking at a nearly 14 percent cut.