Lyon College’s Doctor of Medical Dentistry and Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degrees and a branch campus in Little Rock to house the Dentistry and Veterinary Medicine programs have been approved by the Institutional Actions Council of the Higher Learning Commission.
According to Melissa P. Taverner, president of Lyon College, this is a requirement for the college to complete and submit initial applications for professional accreditation to the American Dental Association’s Commission on Dental Accreditation and the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Council on Education. She said the college plans to start submitting those applications in early 2023.
“Achieving approval from our regional accreditor for these schools is an important milestone for us,” Taverner said in a press release.
The college’s goal is for students in the dental and veterinary programs to begin classes in 2024 or 2025.
Lyon College will work with the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences at the state’s premier dental school where practicable, identifying opportunities for collaborative teaching, research, graduate education and professional development that will benefit students and faculty, according to a previously announced letter of intent this month.
The veterinary school will also likely be the first in the state, and both the dental and veterinary programs will be incorporated into Lyon College’s Department of Health Sciences.
In January 2020, Arkansas State University announced a collaborative agreement with Adtalem Global Education, a private healthcare developer, for the potential creation of a veterinary school for the Jonesboro campus. The state of Arkansas has not announced when a veterinary school might open.
Arkansas is one of only 14 states that does not have a dental school or college, according to listings from the Commission on Dental Accreditation.
In May, officials announced that OneHealth Education Group, a health sciences institute partner with Lyon College, would purchase the Heifer International campus in downtown Little Rock to house the veterinary and dental schools. Heifer opened the $17 million campus in 2006, and Heifer International will remain on campus and lease space from OneHealth.
Despite the state’s important agricultural sector, Arkansas ranks 49th in the US in terms of veterinarians per capita, with just 14 vets per 100,000 people, according to veterinarians.org.
The state also scores poorly in dental health, ranking lowest among states. According to the National Library of Medicine, Arkansas had just 41.82 dentists per 100,000 people in 2019, only ahead of Alabama.
Lyon College, a private liberal arts institution founded in 1872, fell to 495 in September from 581 students last fall, even as new student enrollment rose 12%. According to Carol Langston, director of college communications, the college continues to add programs to attract students and provide qualified staff for occupations with shortages.
For example, Lyon College plans to offer a Bachelor of Science program in nursing in addition to the dental and veterinary colleges that aim to fill the state’s shortage of dentists and veterinarians. Lyon College also plans to host a Master of Arts in Teaching next year.
Nurses and teachers are in demand locally and nationally.
The Bachelor of Science in Nursing and Master of Arts in Education — as well as distance learning courses and programs and a change in mission to offer graduate degrees — were all approved by the Institutional Actions Council of the Higher Learning Commission on Friday. Lyon College announced the approval on Tuesday.
“We are now in a position to promote these new programs, which will be based on our Batesville campus, and proceed with the next stages of development, including preparing lesson plans and completing the admissions process for the BSN and MAT programs.” , Taverner said in the press release .
The Undergraduate Nursing Program – Designed for graduates of registered nursing programs at Arkansas Community Colleges and graduates of nursing schools who have a diploma or associate’s degree in nursing, have earned their state license, and are progressing in their careers by earning a bachelor’s degree — was developed in collaboration with Batesville-based White River Health and the University of Arkansas Community College at Batesville, according to Lyon College.
The master’s degree in teaching, on the other hand, “is aimed specifically at people without a teaching certificate who have obtained their Abitur in content areas and want to become a teacher quickly,” according to the university’s announcement on Tuesday.
“It is wonderfully exciting to see Lyon College add its first new degrees in many decades,” Provost Kurt Grafton said in the college’s press release. “It speaks to the spirit of innovation and hard work that our faculty and staff bring to campus every day as we make the Lyon experience ever more relevant and impactful. Personally, I very much look forward to seeing these programs expand and produce graduates who will make a lasting positive impact on their communities and the state of Arkansas for many years to come.”