PEMBROKE – The University of Nort Carolina at Pembroke is partnering with Tuskegee University to launch a pathway for graduates to study veterinary medicine.
The Pre-Veterinary Medicine Scholars Program will serve as a pipeline and inspire UNC Pembroke graduates to pursue a career in veterinary medicine.
The two universities signed a memorandum of understanding during a ceremony at UNCP on July 7.
“At UNCP, we are guided by a set of six core values — among them service, collaboration and innovation,” said Chancellor Robin Gary Cummings.
“Those are the values that drive this partnership and all of our efforts to create new ‘Pathways to Success’ for UNCP students.”
Ruby Perry, dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine, and Brandon Morgan, director of admissions and recruitment at Tuskegee made the 450-mile trip to attend the signing ceremony.
“You could have signed this agreement from your desk in Alabama,” Chancellor Cummings said. “But by making this trip you are demonstrating your commitment to this partnership, to this community and to this region of North Carolina.
“And we are grateful!”
The program is open to all students. However, the two institutions understand the need to increase racial diversity in the veterinary workforce. A lack of diversity in veterinary schools/colleges has existed for decades.
Students participating in the pre-veterinary scholars program must meet specific criteria to be eligible for the early assurance of admission at Tuskegee. Students must be majoring in animal science, veterinary science or science.
The requirements include completing an early assurance application, interview, and maintaining a specific grade-point average and GRE scores.
Beginning in 2017, students must demonstrate 100 hours of animal experience with a licensed veterinarian and, in 2018, students must demonstrate 200 hours of animal experience with a licensed veterinarian.
Jeff Frederick, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at UNCP, said he is excited about the way UNCP will equip its students for success and the opportunity that will await them at Tuskegee.
“This partnership between two great universities, which share a similar history, provides a pathway for UNC Pembroke students with a dream to serve their communities through veterinary medicine,” Frederick said.
“At UNCP, we are committed to providing comprehensive academic opportunities on campus as well as looking for partnership pathways with great sister institutions when that is a better strategy.”
In January, UNCP signed a similar agreement with the College of Veterinary Medicine at N.C. State University.
“This agreement with Tuskegee is another example of creating a common sense way for our students to achieve their goals,” Frederick continued.
Cummings called the collaboration a “natural partnership,” eluding to significant number of local Tuskegee-educated veterinarians, including Drs. David Brooks, Curt Locklear Jr., Terry Clark, Michael Deese, Melissa Chavis, and Isaac Martinez. Several attended the signing ceremony.
Deese’s son, Austin, and Jana Hunt, Ben Mitchell, are current students at Tuskegee.
Brooks and Locklear, both UNCP alumni, were the first to carve academic paths from UNCP to Alabama in the early 1970s when they were recruited by Tuskegee alum and professor Ellis Hall. He was the first African American to achieve board certification in the American College of Veterinary Radiology.
“It’s amazing, the circle this has taken from something that started from a recruiting trip in 1973,” said Brooks, owner of Pembroke Veterinary Hospital.
“I don’t think it was coincidental. It was God’s will.”
A partnership between UNCP and Tuskegee had been discussed for some time, but, according to Dr. Brooks, Chancellor Cummings served as the catalyst to inking the deal.
“This is going to be a symbiotic relationship,” Brooks said. “Each institution will enhance the other with the ultimate benefit being the students and God’s creatures.”
Curt Locklear Jr., owner of Southeastern Veterinary Hospital, said the signing agreement was a proud moment in his life. During the event, he took a trip down memory lane.
“I was reminiscing back when Dr. Hall came to Pembroke and recruited us to come to Tuskegee,” Locklear said. “In my mind, this agreement between UNCP and Tuskegee began in the 1970s.
“The finalizing of this agreement is the culmination of that recruitment trip 43 years ago. It made me proud to be American Indian, a UNCP graduate and a graduate of Tuskegee University.
“This is a really great program because there are a lot of students out there who are interested in the different fields of veterinary medicine.”
Mark Locklear is a public communications specialist at UNCP