Veterinary medicine is changing and growing, and Colorado State University’s top-ranked College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences is changing, too, with the future of the profession in mind.
The college has announced plans for a $278 million upgrade and expansion of its current veterinary medicine and education facilities housed on the South Campus of CSU, in support of comprehensive, forward-thinking updates to the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine curriculum and cutting-edge clinical research activities.
CSU’s Board of Governors approved the program plan for the veterinary health complex at its Oct. 6-7 meeting in Fort Collins. A financial review is still pending, and the board would still have to approve a financing plan for the project to move forward.
The CSU DVM curriculum renewal, planned for full rollout in Fall 2026, will educate “day one-ready” veterinarians with unparalleled medical training as well as robust skills in problem-solving, conflict resolution, decision-making, and mental, physical and financial wellbeing. New, renovated facilities will allow the college to implement this progressive new curriculum while enlarging class sizes and continuing to meet societal demands for highly skilled veterinarians in an increasingly broad array of roles.
Livestock and tertiary care facilities will also be modernized, and clinical trials facilities will be expanded to serve CSU’s leadership in clinical and translational studies in advancing animal and human health.
The new veterinary health complex, expected to break ground early next year and be completed in phases through 2028, will transform the CSU South Campus as the site of professional training for all DVM students. The 300,000-plus square-foot expansion will include a veterinary education center and a primary care clinic. Renovations or expansions of current spaces will include a livestock teaching hospital, adjacent to the Johnson Family Equine Hospital, and an animal specialty hospital. The existing James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital, originally constructed in 1978, will undergo a remodel and become the animal specialty hospital in support of clinical education and service.
“Our college ranks among the world’s top institutions in veterinary and biomedical education and research,” said Dr. Sue VandeWoude, dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. “Our expansion plan for the South Campus, which will include updated, innovative learning facilities coupled with modern programming for academic veterinary clinicians, will help us continue our tradition of excellence in the academic mission of teaching; the assessment of novel methods for training clinical students; and our research and service to the community. We are grateful for the Board’s support and look forward to sharing more details of our programmatic and capital improvements in the coming days.”
The expanded primary care clinic in the veterinary health complex will be the keystone of the new curriculum, educating more students in small animal clinical practice while meeting increased market demands for regional and national veterinary care. The new clinic will also help the college better respond to veterinary needs for underserved populations through collaborations with nonprofits and with the CSU Spur campus in Denver.
The adjacent animal specialty hospital will allow for greatly enhanced emergency and critical care, cardiovascular and surgical care, and orthopedic and rehabilitation programs, as well as expansion of the Flint Animal Cancer Center. In addition, the existing livestock clinical and teaching space will be replaced by a new facility adjacent to the recently opened Johnson Family Equine Hospital.
These renovations will also support cutting-edge clinical research to investigate new diagnostic, prognostic, and therapeutic interventions for intractable diseases of veterinary patients, analogous to clinical trial programs available for humans.
“The veterinary health complex facilities will empower our people to be leaders in advancing animal healthcare through integrated education, clinical practice and research,” said Dr. Kelly Hall, associate professor in Critical Care Services and a member of the project planning team. “This integrated approach elevates and leverages the expertise and experiences of our staff and faculty to continually advance all aspects of veterinary medicine.”
In response to the ongoing demand for veterinarians across both large- and small-animal specialties, the Fort Collins DVM class size is also anticipated to grow by around 30 students, to a total of about 170. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the employment of clinical veterinarians to grow nearly 20% over the next decade, and there is a concurrent shortage of veterinarians entering academic, governmental and industrial positions.
Currently, first- and second-year students are educated primarily on the Main Campus, while third- and fourth-year students are educated on the South Campus. When completed, the programmatic and space upgrades will allow the college to bring all DVM students to the South Campus, enhancing opportunities for collaboration, learning and support among peers.
Progressive veterinary curriculum
The new veterinary curriculum will be among the most progressive in the world when fully implemented in the next several years, said Dr. Matthew Johnston, associate professor in avian, exotic and zoological medicine and co-chair of the college’s curriculum renewal committee.
“We are focused on things like building a growth mindset for our students, active learning, and preclinical opportunities,” Johnston said. Many of the changes are driven by American Veterinary Medical Association recommendations for veterinary schools to shift their curriculums to lessen the need for on-the-job training for new graduates, according to Johnston. Another foundational step was outreach to employers, alumni, producers and professional organizations to help identify core competencies.
Hands-on experiences for veterinary students will increase, particularly in relation to surgical training. A dedicated surgical skills training facility is included in the veterinary education center plans, giving students more opportunities to learn and perform common procedures, including wound repairs, dental procedures and spays/neuters.
The curriculum will also answer longstanding needs to focus more resources on the mental health and well-being of veterinary students and newly minted veterinarians who are starting businesses, building practices or joining clinics or other organizations. “For eons, these types of things have been extracurricular for the most part,” Johnston said. Now, substantial portions of the curriculum will be devoted to topics like culture, advocacy, leadership and livelihood.