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The University of Arizona veterinary medical and surgical program will begin training students this time next year thanks to a $9 million gift from the Kemper and Ethel Marley Foundation.

It will be the first and only public school of veterinary medicine in Arizona.

Shane Burgess, dean of the UA College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, said Arizona is the most underserved state in terms of students being able to get into veterinary school, and one of the most expensive states to become a veterinarian from.

“For the first time, many students can actually see this as a reality. Whereas before their financial reality meant it could be nothing more than a dream," he said.

The Marley Foundation gift will support scholarships and enable the school to open learning facilities in rural areas around the state, where students will spend their final two semesters.

“Students will see the realities of living and working in these areas," Burgess said. "And they’ll be better placed to get positions in areas like this."

The program will run year-round. Officials say that means students will incur less debt and enter the workforce more rapidly.