Last realeased in 2008, U.S. News rankings acknowledge the best veterinary programs in the nation; since 2000, Cornell has consistently held the top rank. According to Dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine Michael Kotlikoff, Cornell’s program earned an average score of 4.5 on a scale of one to five. The second ranked school, U.C. Davis, earned a 4.1.
The quality of the graduate veterinary program is rated through a peer assessment, which forms the basis of the ranking, said Barbara Knuth, vice provost and dean of the graduate school.
“We’re very proud of the ranking and the recognition of our peers,” said Prof. Avery August, microbiology and immunology. “Rankings attract high quality faculty, which attract high quality students.”
Additionally, as the college faces potential budget cuts from New York State, faculty said they believe the ranking will help the veterinary program increase its funding.
“[The ranking] makes us a stronger case to New York State to support the college,” Kotlikoff said. Being a highly ranked school within the SUNY system, he said, will likely help the college gain support and funding.
Kotlikoff said “the breadth and consistencies of our programs” set the college apart from other veterinary colleges. He added that the innovative Doctor of Veterinary Medicine training program and residency training program for post-graduates are highly ranked by U.S. News and World Report.
Faculty also said Cornell’s top ranking helps the college attract more clients who may go out of their way to receive the best care available for their animals.
William Horne Ph.D. ’89, the director of the Cornell University Hospital for Animals, said the veterinary college had a client from Buffalo, N.Y., choose Cornell over an orthopedic surgeon in the client’s hometown.
“The client was aware that we were ranked number one, and that’s why he came here,” Horne said.
The hospital’s outreach units and diagnostic laboratory contribute significantly to the college’s breadth, according to Kotlikoff. Each year, the hospital treats tens of thousands of cases and has a “very successful, innovative clinical program,” he said.
The diagnostic laboratory has been instrumental in disease surveillance, removing many diseases from the state and preventing them from entering the human population, Kotlikoff said.
The college’s students, which Kotlikoff called “one of the most diverse student bodies of any veterinary college,” also helped bolster the college’s reputation. While many vet schools have class sizes of about 130, Cornell’s class size of 100 students is smaller, Horne said.
Prof. August added that Cornell’s veterinary college is also unique because it is not in close proximity to or overshadowed by a medical school, as is the case for many other vet schools.
“[Our location] allows us to develop unique independent programs that leverage the location that we have,” August said. “That provides a very strong basis for our research and also for our teaching.”
Horne emphasized that the ranking was based on the quality of the entire community surrounding the college, not just the hospital, research programs or faculty.
“It really is a whole college effort to get this ranking. It’s not just the hospital,” he said. “We’re so much more than that.”