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Ruby Perry, left, dean of Tuskegee University's College of Veterinary Medicine and Calvin Johnson, dean of Auburn University's College of Veterinary Medicine,  shake hands after signing an agreement between the two schools late last month at Tuskegee University.

The colleges of veterinary medicine at Tuskegee and Auburn universities recently signed a memorandum of understanding that has created a specific partnership between the two.

Under the agreement, Tuskegee will pay for one of its students to train at Auburn as a resident in an area of need, then return to Tuskegee as a veterinary medicine faculty member and board-certified specialist.

It was signed June 27 at Tuskegee by the deans of the two colleges, Ruby Perry of Tuskegee and Calvin Johnson of Auburn. The student involved, whose name has not yet been announced by Tuskegee, is scheduled to begin her residency in radiology later this month.

“Dean Perry and I work together a lot, talking about our programs in veterinary medicine, and how we can work to help each other,” Johnson told the Opelika-Auburn News. “Our teaching hospital has an excellent radiology and diagnostic imaging service, and we train students in radiology.

“It just so happens that Dean Perry is also a radiologist. She had asked, would there be a possibility that one of their graduates who had done an internship at Purdue University might be able to do an internship at Auburn?”

As a result of the agreement, the student will still benefit from Perry’s mentorship from Tuskegee, as well as that of the Auburn faculty members in imaging and radiology.

Future possibilities

The idea for this arrangement grew out of a discussion the two deans had about increasing diversity in the veterinary profession by training under-represented groups – preferably African-Americans – as board-certified specialists, Perry explained.

“Although veterinary medicine is still one of the most ethnically, racially, and culturally homogenous professions in the country, this initiative is another way to make a difference and help achieve the goal of addressing diversity and emphasize that diversity matters in the veterinary profession,” she stated in a press release.

“The signing of the MOU between the two colleges underscores how we can combine efforts and resources for a common good by responding to the call to improve diversity in the veterinary profession.”

Both Perry and Johnson are hopeful the agreement opens the door for other students to have similar opportunities, depending upon the qualifications of candidates and availability of residency positions.

“We’re always looking for an opportunity … to work closely with Tuskegee, particularly for opportunities where it enhances our efforts in diversity and inclusion in specialists in veterinary medicine,” Johnson said.

“This is an ongoing agreement, as long as both parties agree and are satisfied with the outcomes,” Perry added.

While the veterinary schools at the two universities have co-operated in the past and loosely worked together, the document signed last week was the first formal agreement of its kind between the programs.

“This is the first time we’ve committed through an MOU to doing this for a specific position, and for a certain individual to come and do residency training,” Johnson said. “I think we view this as the first of potential opportunities that may emerge later on.”

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