Published Sunday, May 29, 2005
College marks centennial
K-State's College of Veterinary Medicine celebrates its past while building a foundation for its next 100 years
Since then, the university's College of Veterinary Medicine has handed out doctoral degrees to about 6,000 students. Today's graduating class is 75 percent female, and the graduates are prepared to care for all non-human animals, not just swine, cattle and sheep.
The veterinary program continues to offer classes in anatomy, physiology, diseases and pharmacology, but has expanded to include programs in biosecurity, public health, research and food safety.
"We're helping build a strong foundation for the future," said Dr. Ronnie Elmore, associate dean for academic affairs and admissions.
The K-State College of Veterinary Medicine -- the sixth-oldest veterinary medicine college in the United States -- is marking its centennial during the 67th Annual Conference for Veterinarians June 5-8 in the K-State Student Union. The educational conference will draw participants from throughout the nation.
"(The book's) been a concentrated effort for two or three years," Erickson said. "It actually started 10 years ago when the dean said we needed to document our history better."
Looking to the past
Kansas State Agricultural College was established in 1863, and lectures in veterinary medicine began in 1872, Erickson said. The four-year degree curriculum was established in 1905.
Early classes were in the Farm Machinery Hall, a wood-frame building constructed in 1873, according to an article in K-Stater, the K-State Alumni Association's magazine. Today's classes are in the Veterinary Medical Complex, which includes Coles, Trotter and Mosier halls, on the northern edge of the campus.
All of the veterinary medicine graduates were white and male during the college's first seven years. That began to change in 1912 when John William Brown, an African American from Fort Scott, received his degree.
The K-State college has "probably had more black graduates than anywhere, except Pennsylvania," Erickson said.
Still, the college is focused on increasing the number of minority students in its classrooms.
"Over 90 percent of practicing veterinarians in the United States are Caucasian," Elmore said.
The first female graduate was Helen Richt, of South Omaha, Neb. After graduating in 1932, she set up a small-animal veterinary clinic in Tulsa, Okla.
"She didn't have to take all of the large-animal classes," Elmore said, explaining that school officials believed it was inappropriate, perhaps because they believed women weren't strong enough for the tasks or should not be exposed to such things.
"We are hopeful down the road that we can at least represent our (U.S.) population," Elmore said. "Our goal is certainly to reflect society."
K-State has a legacy of reaching out to other universities to help establish veterinary medicine programs or provide instruction.
K-State alumni had a hand in the development of the School of Veterinary Medicine at Tuskegee Institute. Three of the institute's first eight instructors were K-State graduates.
In 1986, K-State signed a formal agreement with Nebraska to accept students from that state who were interested in becoming veterinarians."It started out actually with 32 students per class ... who paid in-state tuition and Nebraska paid essentially the difference," Elmore said, adding that the number of students later decreased to 25 per class, or 100 students over four years.
Erickson said the contract was terminated this year after Nebraska decided to sign an agreement with Iowa State University. Still, K-State is expecting 13 incoming students from Nebraska next fall.
Today, each incoming class has about 108 students, with 50 percent of them coming from Kansas towns. In 1907, students were not required to pay tuition. Today, in-state tuition is $12,000 per year and tuition for non-residents is $32,000 per year.
In 1962, K-State entered into a partnership with Nigeria to establish a veterinary school at Amadu Bello University at Zaria. That partnership lasted for about 15 years.
"Many of our faculty members went over there for one or two years," Erickson said.
Among KSU's distinguished veterinary medicine alumni and faculty are Nelson S. Mayo, an 1894 graduate who was first to discover tuberculosis in a cattle herd, and Septimus Sisson, a faculty member who became one of the world's leading anatomists.
The College of Veterinary Medicine -- one of 28 in the United States -- has a reputation for preparing its students for the working world, where there is a high demand for veterinarians.
"In terms of employment, for a number of years, our students have had an average of four to five job offers," Elmore said. "Eighty percent go into private practice. The other 20 percent go into military, industrial veterinary medicine or food safety."
The college includes a rabies lab, a teaching hospital and a diagnostic lab. In 2003, the veterinary medicine college broke ground on the $50 million KSU Biosecurity Research Institute, a one-of-a-kind facility for research on infectious diseases.
Last September, the research institute received a two-year, $1.38 million Department of Defense contract to develop content and software to help emergency personnel deal with food or agricultural bioterrorism.
Marty Vanier, the center's assistant director and program coordinator, said at that time emphasis would be placed on diseases that could be transferred to humans by vertebrate animals and diseases that can threaten agriculture and its infrastructure.
"Those include foot and mouth disease, avian influenza and exotic Newcastle disease," she said.
Elmore said a new Equine Diagnostic Center, built with private money, houses an MRI, treadmills and other cutting-edge equipment for the diagnosis and treatment of lameness in horses.
At the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, new digital radiography equipment has been put in place that will allow staff to adjust and transport radiographs electronically and view them at computers elsewhere in the world. The hospital's critical care unit also has been renovated and expanded, and the cardiology and dental suites are being updated.
The college plans to enhance its large-animal studies program to help meet demands in the areas of mixed animal practice, large herd management, biosecurity research and food safety.
K-State officials believe they are on the right track to ensure the college's longevity.
"Another hundred years at least," Elmore said.
Kansas State University will celebrate the centennial of its College of Veterinary Medicine with the following events:
Linda Johnson, director of the Institutional Technology Center and continuing education, is chairman of the centennial committee.
The 67th Annual Conference for Veterinarians, will meet June 5-8 in the K-State Student Union. In addition to educational seminars, other activities include:
• "The ART of Veterinary Medicine," a display of photographs, paintings and other fine art created by the veterinary medical community, Student Union.
• Five-year class reunions, Saturday and June 5, with college and campus tours at 9 and 10 a.m. Saturday.
• 11th Annual Scholarship Golf Tournament, 8 a.m. June 6, Colbert Hills Golf Course.
• Heritage Evening, a dinner, centennial program and awards presentation, 6:30 p.m. June 6, Alumni Center.
• Kansas Veterinary Medical Association Vendor Trade Show, June 6-7, Student Union Ballroom.
The hard-bound, 288-page book will be available in early June. Cost is $40, plus shipping.
For more information or to order, call the Office of Development and Alumni Affairs, (785) 532-4043, or the dean's office of the College of Veterinary Medicine, (785) 532-5660. Centennial items can be ordered online by visiting www.vet.k-state.edu and clicking on "Centennial Celebration."
The outdoor classroom between Mosier and Trotter halls is being renovated into the College of Veterinary Medicine Centennial Plaza. Granite bricks and granite plaques are being sold to create the plaza and raise money for scholarships.
The bricks are available in two sizes -- 4 by 8 inches or 8 by 8 inches -- and can display three or four lines of text. Prices are $100 and $250 respectively. The plaques, 12 by 12 inches, can be customized with up to six lines of type and a logo. The plaques cost $750.
For more information or to order, call the Office of Development and Alumni Affairs, (785) 532-4043.
Jan Biles can be reached at 295-1292 or email@example.com.