first published in the January 2024 Equiery

The University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) has created a new School of Veterinary Medicine in response to the country’s decline in new veterinarians. The University System of Maryland Board of Regents approved the program on December 15 making it the second veterinary school in the U.S. at a historically Black college or university. It will also be Maryland’s first stand-alone veterinarian program as its current program is in conjunction with Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, VA.

“Our new veterinary medicine school will help UMES fill an unmet need on the Eastern Shore and throughout the state,” said UMES President Dr. Heidi M. Anderson. “Deeply rooted in our 1890 land-grant mission, this program will enable us to serve farmers, the food industry and the 50% of Marylanders who own a pet. It will also increase both the diversity of the profession and address the workforce needs of the industry. We’re deeply grateful to the Maryland Board of Regents and for the widespread support this program has garnered.”

The proposed program will be officially open to students in the fall of 2026 and will be a three-year completion program, as opposed to the traditional four-year program. The new approach will allow UMES veterinary students the ability to learn the same material but at a more accelerated pace.

As of press, the program still must receive final approval from the Maryland Higher Education Commission and then a consultative visit from the American Veterinary Medical Association-Council on Education is expected later this year. In the meantime, UMES is proceeding with fundraising and planning and has hired Dr. Kimberly Braxton as interim founding dean. Dr. Braxton is a UMES alumna (2007) and has served as a pre-veterinary faculty advisor for the past five years. She is also the Institutional Animal Care & Use Committee (IACUC) attending veterinarian and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in lab animal science at Drexel University.