April 15, 2010

Cornell Partners With Hong Kong to Create New Veterinary School

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The government of Hong Kong is considering a proposal that, if approved, would make Cornell a primary actor in the development of the city’s first veterinary school.

The plan calls for Cornell to act as a collaborating institution, providing training to new instructors, assistance in developing the curriculum and mentoring for faculty.

“If the program gets funded and underway, our association would mean that [Hong Kong’s] City University would become self sufficient through our strong support from over here,” said Prof. Alfonso Torres, associate dean for public policy. Torres was one of the key figures behind the proposal.

According to Torres, officials from the City University conducted research that found a strong need for a veterinary school in the city. They proceeded to search for an institution that could help them fill this need, and ultimately selected Cornell.

The College of Veterinary Medicine is excited by the proposal, Torres said. The college envisions an opportunity to confront problems that have far reaching consequences, like avian flu epidemics and global food safety, he said. The Veterinary College hopes to assist in training a new generation of veterinarians to address these issues and to treat the increasing number of domesticated animals that come with Hong Kong’s rapidly growing economy.

“We are proud to have the opportunity to assist an international partner in the development of a model program that will meet ever-increasing societal needs to protect animal health, relieve animal suffering, conserve livestock resources, promote public health and advance modern medical knowledge,” Veterinary College Dean Michael Kotlikoff stated in a press release.

In addition to the hospital and school in the city, the plans also call for the development of a clinic nearby in China that would regulate the food supply coming into Hong Kong. Students in the Veterinary College would have the opportunity to complete rotations in this clinic and learn about the regulation and food safety issues for themselves.

The proposal calls for the first class of 30 students to be admitted in 2012, gradually increasing the class sizes to 50. Students will graduate the program with a Bachelor’s degree in veterinary medicine from the City University of Hong Kong. Torres said that though the degree is called a “bachelor’s degree,” the curriculum will be very similar to that of Cornell’s doctor of veterinary medicine degree. However, the program is designed as a six-year program that students take upon graduation from high school.

This is likely to become the Veterinary College’s largest international program, Torres said. However, it may not be the largest international program for long. According to Torres, discussion is underway to create a high-level equine hospital and research facility, along with a veterinary school, in Qatar. This college would be likely to confer Cornell degrees, he said.

Original Author: Juan Forrer