But Mitchell pointed out that A&M’s program accounts for only about a quarter of veterinary licenses issued in the state. Most come from programs out of state with a growing number of students attending schools internationally.
Some of those coming from Kansas or Oklahoma schools are Texans to begin with, Mitchell notes, but steep out-of-state tuition means newly minted veterinarians will gravitate toward busy city centers where they can drum up business faster.
“It really does dictate where they go,” Mitchell said.
Meanwhile, West Texas accounts for much of the state’s — and the nation’s — source of cattle, sheep, goats and other livestock. More than 95 percent of the state’s beef and about 70 percent of milk production comes from the Panhandle, according to Texas Tech.
In May, a group of West Texas lawmakers issued a joint statement in support of the veterinary school saying it will not only meet the growing population needs and help secure the state’s food supply by ensuring healthy livestock but will also help reel in debt.
“The school will address the hundreds of students who are leaving the state of Texas for a more costly education, then coming back to practice in their home state with upwards of $250,000 in debt due to out-of-state tuition,” the statement read.
The Legislature approved $17.4 million for the veterinary school and $20 million for the dental school.
Texas has three other dental schools: The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston School of Dentistry; the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio; and the Baylor College of Dentistry in Dallas.