Following a historic approval by its Board of Trustees, Clemson University is preparing to launch the first College of Veterinary Medicine in the State of South Carolina. The approval follows the completion of the FY24 state budget, which includes significant support for the new college from Governor Henry McMaster and the South Carolina General Assembly.
The University’s first professional school, the Clemson University College of Veterinary Medicine plans to enroll the first students in Fall 2026 with the first class of veterinarians graduating in 2030, and the college will leverage the University’s existing animal health programs and infrastructure to create a veterinary medicine workforce to fill a statewide shortage of veterinarians.
“Today is a historic day. We are thrilled that Clemson University has received landmark funding to establish the state of South Carolina’s first college of veterinary medicine,” said Clemson University President Jim Clements. “Clemson University is continuing its mission of positively impacting the lives of our students and the citizens of South Carolina. The new college will continue to elevate the state of South Carolina by meeting the needs of our communities, retaining top talent, supporting the state’s economy and protecting animal and human health.”
“Veterinarians today play an increasingly important role, in addition to caring for both companion and farm animals, protecting public health, playing an essential role in food safety as well as in detection and control of zoonotic diseases,” said Boyd Parr, co-chair of the Clemson College of Veterinary Medicine steering committee and retired South Carolina State Veterinarian. “This new veterinary college can produce the veterinarians and research that will contribute to a better future for our citizens and our animals.”
The new college will use a distributed model of clinical teaching, where students learn their basic sciences, anatomy, pre-clinical skills and communication skills during their first three years on campus, after which students conduct clinical learning in distributed learning sites throughout the state.
The approval of the new college follows the creation of a steering committee comprised of experts in veterinary and human health and an independent feasibility study conducted over the past 18 months.
The feasibility study found:
- 33% of South Carolina counties have fewer than five veterinarians.
- 48% of the state’s counties have fewer than 10 veterinarians.
- Nearly 200 South Carolina students were actively enrolled at 13 veterinary colleges outside the state (2022).
- The qualified pool that was not admitted to a veterinary program is estimated to be 500–1,000 (2018).
The feasibility study also found Clemson University to have the academic and regulatory programs, land, and on-campus animal science farms and infrastructure to position it ideally to support and contain a veterinary college.
Some diseases, called zoonotic diseases, can be spread between animals and people. More than half of all infections people can get can be spread by animals, including rabies, salmonella and West Nile virus.
Currently, the state provides tuition coverage for 46 students to pursue veterinary education at Tuskegee University (seven), Mississippi State University (10) and University of Georgia (29) at a cost of over $6 million per year.
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