‘Doc’ Graham Center—Including VERO, TVMDL Buildings—Officially Opens In Texas Panhandle

Story by Chip Chandler, West Texas A&M University

Dr. John August speaks at the Doc Graham Center grand opening
The “Doc” Graham Center Grand Opening Ceremony

CANYON, Texas — Dignitaries, Texas A&M and West Texas A&M university administrators, and students alike today celebrated the grand opening of two buildings that greatly enhance veterinary medical, education, and research missions in the Texas Panhandle.

The Charles W. “Doc” Graham ’53 DVM, The Texas A&M University System Center officially opened on the West Texas A&M University campus with celebratory comments from Chancellor John Sharp, WT President Dr. Walter V. Wendler, Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences (CVMBS) Dean Dr. John August, Texas A&M Vice Chancellor and Dean for Agriculture and Life sciences Dr. Patrick Stover, Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory Director Dr. Bruce Akey, elected officials, and more.

The center—located in the northeast corner of WT’s Canyon campus—is home to both the Veterinary Education, Research, & Outreach (VERO) Building and the Charles W. Graham DVM Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory (TVMDL) Building.

Both facilities opened in September, signaling the culmination of The Texas A&M University System’s investment in large animal health in the Texas Panhandle; grand opening celebrations were delayed due to the pandemic. The project is supported by $90 million in capital improvements and $5 million in faculty hires, for a total of $95 million in investment in the region. Ground was broken on both buildings in December 2018.   

The VERO building is a $22-million 34,000-square-foot facility that now serves as a regional veterinary teaching center that creates a gateway to the CVMBS for students interested in pursuing veterinary medicine from the Texas Panhandle and West Texas, while also facilitating collaborative, multidisciplinary research among scientists from across the region.

Not only are WT pre-veterinary students taught in the facility but it will also serve as the home for the CVMBS’ 2+2 Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) program, which will enroll its first cohort of 18 first-year DVM students in the fall of 2021.

“Our college’s commitment to educational opportunity for the young people of our state extends from the Panhandle to the Rio Grande Valley,” said Dr. John August, CVMBS dean, in prepared comments. “On May 12, the first three students to receive their degrees from our undergraduate Biomedical Sciences program at the Higher Education Center in McAllen walked the stage in Reed Arena in College Station and we look forward to celebrating the graduation of our first cohort of 2+2 DVM program students from VERO in 2025.”

The audience at the Doc Graham Center grand opening

“With this partnership at WT, the CVMBS continues to meet both the needs of the state and our students in the most innovative, high-quality, effective and cost-efficient manner possible,” Sharp said in prepared comments. “We have created a two-way superhighway of veterinary education and research activity from Canyon to College Station, and it runs right through the VERO and TVMDL facilities within the Dr. Charles Graham center on the WT campus.”

VERO is also a critical component of WT’s drive to become a Regional Research University, WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World.

“I thank Dr. Eleanor Green, the former dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, as a champion of this visionary project, The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents for their wisdom in adopting it, and Chancellor John Sharp for his diligent and meticulous implementation of it,” Wendler said in prepared comments. “This farsighted partnership will greatly impact the enrollment of promising future veterinarians from the Panhandle area who want to return to the Texas Panhandle to live, work and serve.”

The TVMDL facility is a $17.6-million, 22,000-square-foot building that features the latest technology for diagnostic services in bacteriology, pathology, serology and virology, as well as spaces for receiving, sample processing, necropsy services and administrative support.

The opening of the building in September signaled a relocation to Canyon from its previous location in Amarillo, which was opened in 1975 to specifically serve the Panhandle’s cattle feedlot industry as an extension of the agency’s College Station-based laboratory.

TVMDL, one of the Texas A&M University System’s eight state agencies and a member of Texas A&M AgriLife, comprises four laboratories across the state. Annually, the agency performs over 1 million diagnostic tests for a variety of animal species. The Canyon laboratory has continued the agency’s original commitment to the region’s cattle industry and performs an estimated 160,000 tests for cattle each year.

TVMDL and VERO comprise both buildings in the center named after Graham, a Texas A&M Distinguished Alumnus and one of Texas’ most renowned equine veterinarians.

The “Doc” Graham Center grand opening celebration was scheduled to be attended by U.S. Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-Amarillo); Texas Reps. John Cyrier, Glenn Rogers, John Smithee, and Lynn Stucky; members of the TAMUS Board of Regents Randy Brooks, Bill Mahomes and Michale J. Plank; faculty; staff; students, and more.

“The financial and human capital investments reflected in this partnership will undoubtedly have an indelible impact on the Panhandle region, the lives of the generations of students who will receive their veterinary education at VERO, and the thousands of animal owners and veterinarians who will benefit from cutting-edge diagnostic testing at TVMDL,” Dr. Todd Rasberry, vice president for philanthropy and external relations and executive director of the WTAMU Foundation, said in prepared comments.

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For more information about the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, please visit our website at vetmed.tamu.edu or join us on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter.

Contact Information: Jennifer Gauntt, Director of CVMBS Communications, Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, jgauntt@cvm.tamu.edu, 979-862-4216; Chip Chandler, West Texas A&M University, 806-651-2124, cchandler@wtamu.edu

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