The Texas A&M University System and Texas A&M AgriLife celebrated the grand opening of two buildings that greatly enhance veterinary medical, education and research missions in the Texas Panhandle.
The Charles W. “Doc” Graham ’53 DVM, The Texas A&M University System Center officially opened on the West Texas A&M University campus with celebratory comments from Chancellor John Sharp and West Texas A&M President Walter V. Wendler, Ph.D., as well as other dignitaries such as Patrick J. Stover, Ph.D., vice chancellor of Texas A&M AgriLife, dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and director of Texas A&M AgriLife Research, and Bruce Akey, Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory director.
The center — located in the northeast corner of West Texas A&M’s Canyon campus — is home to both the Veterinary Education, Research and Outreach building, or VERO, and the Charles W. Graham DVM Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory, TVMDL, building.
TVMDL, one of the Texas A&M University System’s eight state agencies and a member of Texas A&M AgriLife, is comprised of four laboratories across the state. Annually, the agency performs over 1 million diagnostic tests for a variety of animal species. The Canyon laboratory has continued the agency’s original commitment to the region’s cattle industry and performs an estimated 160,000 tests for cattle each year.
While both facilities opened in September, signaling the culmination of The Texas A&M University System’s investment in large animal health in the Texas Panhandle, the grand opening celebrations were delayed due to the pandemic.
The project is supported by $90 million in capital improvements and $5 million in faculty hires, for a total of $95 million in investment in the region. Ground was broken on both buildings in December 2018.
“With this partnership at West Texas A&M, the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences continues to meet both the needs of the state and our students in the most innovative, high-quality, effective and cost-efficient manner possible,” Sharp said. “We have created a two-way superhighway of veterinary education and research activity from Canyon to College Station, and it runs right through the VERO and TVMDL facilities within the Dr. Charles Graham center on the West Texas A&M campus.”
Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory relocates
The TVMDL facility is a $17.6 million, 22,000-square-foot building that features the latest technology for diagnostic services in bacteriology, pathology, serology and virology, as well as spaces for receiving, sample processing, necropsy services and administrative support.
The opening of the building in September signaled a relocation to Canyon from Amarillo. The previous location opened in 1975 to specifically serve the Panhandle’s cattle feedlot industry as an extension of the agency’s College Station-based laboratory.
“Since TVMDL’s inception, the agency has made major discoveries from the world’s first isolation of canine parvovirus to the discovery of poisonous aflatoxin in dog food to the lab’s now routine diagnosis of anthrax,” Stover said. “Over the years, TVMDL remains steadfast in its mission to protect animal health.”
Stover said outbreaks such as COVID-19 show the ease with which diseases can move across the world.
“Factor in the countless daily threats that have the potential to wreak havoc on livestock and companion animals, and it’s more important than ever to be vigilant when it comes to animal health. This is why we constructed a new laboratory for TVMDL: to continue to provide disease surveillance and protection for our livestock and human populations in Texas and around the globe.”
Veterinary Education, Research and Outreach prepares future veterinarians
VERO is a critical component of WT’s drive to become a regional research university, WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World.
“I thank Dr. Eleanor Green, the former dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, as a champion of this visionary project, The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents for their wisdom in adopting it, and Chancellor John Sharp for his diligent and meticulous implementation of it,” Wendler said in prepared comments. “This farsighted partnership will greatly impact the enrollment of promising future veterinarians from the Panhandle area who want to return to the Texas Panhandle to live, work and serve.”
The VERO building is a $22 million, 34,000-square-foot facility that now serves as a regional veterinary teaching center and that creates a gateway to the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences for students interested in pursuing veterinary medicine from the Texas Panhandle and West Texas, while also facilitating collaborative, multidisciplinary research among scientists from across the region.
Not only are West Texas A&M’s pre-veterinary students taught in the facility, but it will also serve as the home for the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences’ 2+2 Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, DVM, program, which will enroll its first cohort of 18 first-year DVM students this fall.
“Our college’s commitment to educational opportunity for the young people of our state extends from the Panhandle to the Rio Grande Valley,” said Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences Dean John August, Ph.D. “On May 12, the first three students to receive their degrees from our undergraduate biomedical sciences program at the Higher Education Center in McAllen walked the stage in Reed Arena in College Station. We look forward to celebrating the graduation of our first cohort of 2+2 DVM program students from VERO in 2025.”
Affecting the lives of generations to come
TVMDL and the center comprised of both buildings are named after Graham, a Texas A&M Distinguished Alumnus and one of Texas’ most renowned equine veterinarians.
“The financial and human capital investments reflected in this partnership will undoubtedly have an indelible impact on the Panhandle region, the lives of the generations of students who will receive their veterinary education at VERO, and the thousands of animal owners and veterinarians who will benefit from cutting-edge diagnostic testing at TVMDL,” Todd Rasberry, Ph.D., vice president for philanthropy and external relations and executive director of the WTAMU Foundation, said in prepared comments.
This story was adapted from an article written by Chip Chandler, 806-651-2124, email@example.com, that first appeared on the West Texas A&M University website.