The University of Georgia held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Feb. 13 to dedicate the College of Veterinary Medicine's new Veterinary Medical Center, which includes an education building and a teaching hospital for large and small animals.
Speakers included Gov. Nathan Deal, Chancellor Hank Huckaby, UGA President Jere W. Morehead, Rep. Terry England, Sen. Bill Cowsert, Dean Sheila Allen, Hospital Director Gary Baxter and second-year veterinary student Robert Cotton.
"‘To teach, to serve, and to inquire into the nature of things,' has long been the motto of the University of Georgia. Today, this motto comes to life in the form of a world-class facility, which will support our renowned College of Veterinary Medicine," Morehead said. "Only with our elected officials, the board of regents and our faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends working closely together could we bring this new medical center to reality-honoring our land-grant mission to improve lives and to improve communities in this state, across the nation and around the world."
A large crowd gathered to dedicate the Veterinary Medical Center, located at 2200 College Station Road. Construction began on the new facility in the spring of 2013, thanks to state and private funding.
"To the alumni of this institution, the practicing veterinarians and those who are associated with the ramifications of this school, I want to thank you, because, quite honestly, as we look at proposed projects," Deal said, "one of the things that gets our attention is when there is a private-sector component. That makes (a proposal) go further-using the public money with the private revenue that has been raised-and this project is a great example of that."
The center was designed by Perkins+Will and built by Turner Construction Co. The new facilities-which encompass roughly 300,000 square feet-will enable the college to better meet its students' educational needs and its current patient care demands.
"This new state-of-the-art facility, including the teaching hospital, will provide our students the kind of real, hands-on experiences that will help them become better practitioners," Huckaby said.
The center houses a Veterinary Education Center, which includes a 160-seat auditorium and three classrooms. Expanded teaching and collaboration spaces also are located in the new Veterinary Teaching Hospital. All learning spaces will be available to students for studying during non-class hours and can be reserved for seminars and special events.
In late March, all hospital operations will move to the new site, along with all clinical faculty, hospital staff, clinical support services and third- and fourth-year students. The UGA Veterinary Medical Center officially opens on March 25.
"This project represents a huge investment for the future of veterinary medical education," Allen said. In addressing the veterinary students in attendance, she added, "You are the future of the veterinary medical profession-in you and in those who follow you, we know this investment will be well-served."
The current hospital, which opened in 1979, handles more than 24,500 visits per year in one of the smallest veterinary teaching hospitals in the U.S. The new hospital, which will care for large and small animals, is more than double the size of the old facility and is outfitted with top-of-the-line equipment and improved functionality.
"This facility will enable the college to be on more equal footing with peer veterinary hospitals in the Southeast and across the country," Baxter said. "This was an essential step to be able to attract the highest-caliber faculty, staff, interns, residents and students to the University of Georgia, and to further improve clinical teaching, client service and patient care within the hospital."