BASSETERRE, St Kitts -- Representatives from faculty, staff and students joined leaders from Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine (RUSVM) and the federation of St Kitts and Nevis last Thursday for a groundbreaking ceremony to commemorate the next stage of development and expansion of RUSVM’s St Kitts campus. The drive behind the planned expansion is the desire to further RUSVM’s development into an innovative educational program for veterinary training worldwide.
The groundbreaking follows the October 31, 2012, signing of a new 25-year partnership agreement between RUSVM and the federation. Already underway is the expansion of the diagnostic imaging laboratory, which will provide additional space for students and radiography equipment. The full campus master plan includes a wellness and student center, as well as new academic buildings housing instructional space and laboratories. A new simulation lab will also feature technology for communications skills and problem-based learning.
The ceremony was representative of three new buildings that will commence construction in the next several months.
The first of those is the Facilities and Pasture Management Service Center, the site of the ceremony. The building will be the hub for facilities and pasture management operations, including the main office for facilities operations, an equipment/vehicle maintenance shop, workshop for repairs and carpentry, as well as storage for pasture management, purchasing, and facilities equipment.
Second, a preparatory school expansion will provide needed space to accommodate curriculum and student needs including physical education, day care and pre-school. The third building noted in the celebration was the Wellness and Student Center, which will include student study space, student health and counseling center, and student government office. The center will also be home a relocated and enlarged gym/aerobics area and wellness area.
Dr Elaine Watson, RUSVM dean, conveyed the impetus behind the planned development.
“Our goal is simple yet ambitious and this is outlined in the school’s strategic plan - to focus on our students and their program so they can become leaders in veterinary training worldwide. We are also in the process of growing and developing the faculty and the academic program to compete in excellence with any vet school in the US,” said Watson.
The groundbreaking ceremony served as a platform to celebrate new beginnings as well as the renewal of this private/ public sector partnership. Since its founding, Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine has been a committed partner with local government and business leaders.
William Hughson, president of DeVry Inc.'s HealthCare Group, outlined the school’s commitment to partnership with St Kitts, recounting the three-fold rationale behind the celebratory event. “Today, we affirm our relationship with the Federation and commit Ross to invest in the further development of this campus. Secondly, we affirm our commitment to the Federation by purchasing 24 acres of land which we currently lease from the Government. The exciting result of the first two is the symbolic breaking of ground on a significant expansion and investment in this campus and this beautiful country.”
RUSVM employs more than 300 staff, of which about 70 percent are local nationals. The new construction projects could result in additional positions and may increase revenues for local businesses. Currently more than 900 students are living and studying in St Kitts.
RUSVM also supports a wide array of community service initiatives to support national and local programs in education, health, culture, safety/security and animal welfare. RUSVM also provides up to four full scholarships annually to local national students to pursue a veterinary medical degree or another degree program offered through the DeVry family of institutions. RUSVM has granted more than US$329,000 in scholarships to local national students.
In addition, RUSVM supports and encourages its employees to further their own educational goals by providing employees and their dependent spouses and children tuition-benefits to complete courses at Becker Professional Education, Chamberlain College of Nursing and DeVry University. More than $4.3 million in tuition benefits have been provided in support of 137 employees who have participated in the tuition benefit program.
President of the Student Government Association, Zachary Wilcox, expressed that the slated projects and expansions were a testament to the continued commitment of the school to its students. Wilcox extended heartfelt appreciation to all those present on behalf of the student body. “Thank you to those from the St. Kitts community for welcoming us to your country. Many of us have Kittitian friends that will forever be a part of our lives. Thank you to those members of the Ross University Board who help provide guidance to the future of our veterinary education. And finally, thank you to those members of the faculty and staff who make our education possible.”
Dr Denzil Douglas, prime minister of St Kitts and Nevis, spoke on behalf of the federation and described the benefits that the partnership with RUSVM has brought to the economic development of the nation.
Following the ceremony, leadership from RUSVM and the federation officially broke ground then raised a celebratory toast to the continued success of their partnership.
RUSVM has made numerous charitable contributions to support national and local programs in education, health, culture, safety/security and animal welfare. Examples of these contributions include a monthly radio program, Animal Answers, and a no cost spay clinic for dogs to reduce the stray population on the island. In addition, the university has donated supplies and monetary funds to the Children’s Home, contributed critical care equipment to Joseph N. France General Hospital and developed sea turtle awareness programs. As a founding member of the Coalition of Support for St Kitts-Nevis Security Initiatives, RUSVM has supported local police through numerous anti-crime initiatives.