Health & Environment

Faculty Hires Expand Veterinary Missions In Texas Panhandle

The Texas A&M VERO program will bring education and animal care to much of West Texas.
By Aubrey Bloom, Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences October 9, 2020

A rendering of the VERO building
A rendering of the VERO building.

Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences

The Veterinary Education, Research, & Outreach (VERO) program, a partnership between the Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVMBS) and West Texas A&M University, has hired two new faculty members to bring their extensive experience in the field and the classroom to the students, veterinarians, livestock producers and citizens of the Texas Panhandle.

Benjamin Newcomer, a dairy cattle expert, and Jenna Funk, an expert in beef cattle production, will support the fourth-year veterinary students who choose to participate in clinical rotations in Canyon and the surrounding areas.

“Dr. Newcomer and Dr. Funk bring a wealth of experience, knowledge and research expertise to the VERO team, and the work they will do through teaching and research will have a tremendous impact on Texas A&M students and, as importantly, the citizens of the Texas Panhandle and High Plains region,” said Dr. John August, CVMBS dean. “Understanding the impact of management decisions on animal health, as well as on human health and the global environment, requires a ‘One Health’ approach to livestock stewardship, and these two new professors will play a key role in ensuring the next generation of veterinarians understand this as well.”

Dr. Susan Eades, head of the CVMBS’ Large Animal Clinical Sciences Department, said Newcomer and Funk will bring an exciting combination of dairy and feedlot practice experience and teaching skills to the college.

“These faculty are extremely dedicated to the sustainability of livestock industries and to the education of the next generation of veterinarians,” Eades said. “They will teach rotations to fourth-year students in rural, dairy, feedlot and cow-calf practices, preparing students for food animal and rural careers that will benefit these important practice areas.”

portrait of benjamin newcomer
Benjamin Newcomer.

Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences

Newcomer will join the VERO team in November from Auburn University, where he completed a residency in internal medicine and a Ph.D. in biomedical sciences, and has been a faculty member since 2013.

Board certified by the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine, the American College of Veterinary Preventive Medicine, and the American Board of Toxicology, Newcomer also has six years of experience in private dairy practice.

“There are a lot of things that attracted me to this position,” Newcomer said. “Certainly, the history and tradition of Texas A&M is unrivaled and well known. They’re known for producing quality veterinary graduates and the VERO program is geographically situated in a growing area where there are lots of cattle where students can get hands-on experience.”

An Iowa State University graduate, Funk received extensive training in beef cattle medicine at the Clay Center and as a feedlot intern, both in Nebraska. She also taught veterinary students on clinical rotations as a post-doctoral student at Iowa State.

She is currently an ambulatory animal health veterinary practitioner and production animal consultant for Metzger Veterinary Services in Linwood, Ontario.

For Funk, the attraction came in the opportunity to help the students find the same passion that she did as a student when she was exposed to real-world experiences.

portrait of jenna funk
Jenna Funk.

Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences

“What really appealed to me was their drive to put students on the farms and in real-life situations,” she said. “The cooperation they have with mixed animal practices down there and the relationships they’re building with the big commercial feedlots and the big commercial dairies, they’re really trying to give the students a very much real-world experience of what they’re going to run into when they get out into practice.”

Newcomer and Funk are among the 12-13 new hires the CVMBS plans to make in support of the fourth-year clinical rotations and the new 2+2 Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) program, and are part of a $5 million commitment by the Texas A&M University System to support hiring.

“The Texas A&M University System has put its full backing behind the VERO program and these top-notch hires are evidence that we are serious about its success,” said John Sharp, chancellor of The Texas A&M University System.

Announced in September 2019, the 2+2 DVM program will allow veterinary students to complete their first and second years at the VERO facility before completing the third and part of their fourth years at the CVMBS in College Station. The first cohort of up to 18 students participating in the 2+2 program will begin classes at VERO in fall 2021.

Media Contacts:

  • Jennifer Gauntt, Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, 979-862-4216,
  • Chip Chandler, West Texas A&M, 806-651-2124,


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