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Lyon College provides update on Little Rock dental and veterinary schools

Heifer International
A new dental school will be located in Heifer International's current headquarters in downtown Little Rock.

Lyon College in Batesville is moving forward with its plans to build a dental and veterinary school in downtown Little Rock.

On Tuesday at the Little Rock Rotary Club, officials described the building design and curriculum plans for the school as they continue their work to earn accreditation. The two schools will be built near the Sixth Street corridor at the headquarters of Heifer International.

Merritt Dake is CEO of OneHealth Companies, which is partnering with Lyon College on the effort. He said there is an "under supply of veterinary schools."

"Just in general in the veterinary world, there is a huge shortage everywhere," he said.

Dake said he estimates up to 600 students could live on or near campus, many of whom will not have originally hailed from Little Rock. Along with building classrooms, they also hope to build living and eating spaces.

The vet school will include instruction in large animals which Dake believes will accommodate a need for vets who know how to take care of larger animals.

Lyon College President Melissa Taverner says the curriculum will offer hands-on experience.

"The basic science, the didactic part of the education, will take place here in Little Rock," she said. She says many students will be eligible to go through a rotation after they have been vetted at local dental and veterinary clinics.

When it comes to acquiring new students, Taverner said it will take a “total year recruiting cycle to see the class.”

"So we have about a year to prepare the admissions process," she said.

Taverner says they hope to start breaking ground on the new schools in August.

Josie Lenora is the Politics/Government Reporter for UA Little Rock Public Radio.