Kansas City Veterinary College History

Kansas City Veterinary College 1903The Kansas City Veterinary College (KCVC) was the second largest of the early mostly private institutions in the United States with respect to the number of graduates.

The KCVC had 1857 graduates over a span of 26 years, beginning with a class of three students in 1892 and 159 students in the last class of 1918. (See list of notable graduates and bios)

A history of Kansas City and its people by Whitney (1908) referred to the KCVC as the largest institution of its kind in America and the fourth largest in the world. Bierer (1940) in his history of veterinary medicine and review of veterinary schools of the past states that Dr. Sesco Stewart with Dr. Robert C. Moore reared the greatest private veterinary school in our land.

The KCVC was also the foundation of the Kansas City Animal Health Corridor, the home today for more than 125 companies serving the animal health and nutrition industry, the largest concentration in the world. The history of the Kansas City Animal Health Corridor began about 1867 with the first cattle drive up the Chisholm Trail from Texas, followed by shipping the cattle to Kansas City and the eastern part of the United States by railroad.

The Kansas City Stockyards were established in 1871 to provide better prices for livestock owners. The meat packing industry began to appear in Kansas City about the same time. In 1891, the Kansas City Veterinary College (KCVC) was founded, solidifying the foundation for the Kansas City Animal Health Corridor. Some of the faculty and graduates of the KCVC established pharmaceutical and serum companies in the Kansas City Animal Health Corridor.

Establishment of the KCVC

In the beginning, the students at the KCVC attended one term of six months to be eligible to receive the Doctor of Veterinary Science degree. In 1893, the requirement for graduation was changed from one to two terms of six months. In order to provide more scientific training and to improve the standing of the graduates, a three year graded course of study was inaugurated in 1896. The school was depleted by the draft of World War I and closed its doors in 1918. The students were given the opportunity to transfer to Kansas State Agricultural College (KSAC). A museum of pathological specimens, the academic records and composite photographs of the graduating classes were donated to KSAC. Many of the graduates are listed among the "Who's Who" of the veterinary profession and provided the foundation for the animal health companies in the Kansas City area.

Smithcors (1975) noted in "The Veterinarian in America" that the KCVC was noted for its excellent instruction. Dunlop and Williams (1996) in "Veterinary Medicine, an Illustrated History", note that the KCVC had the reputation for producing the highest quality education of the private schools. By 1905, 40% of the veterinarians working at the prestigious Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) were alumni of the KCVC.

Many leaders emerged from the ranks of the graduates of the KCVC, including Willard L. Boyd (class of 1909) who became the founding dean or director of the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University Minnesota in 1947. There were also fifteen state veterinarians, numerous BAI staff members and three AVMA presidents who graduated from the KCVC.

Locations and Degree History

The KCVC had four different locations in Kansas City, Missouri, beginning in two rented rooms in the Schutte Building at 15th and Grand Avenue in 1891, moving to 310 East 12th Street in 1892, then to 1404-06 Holmes Street in 1896, and to 1336 East Fifteenth Street in 1903. (See more info about these locations.)

The Doctor of Veterinary Science degree was conferred upon the graduates of classes 1892 to 1911, and the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree was conferred upon the classes 1912 to 1918.

A faculty of 20 instructed the 470 students enrolled in this private school in 1908. The curriculum was in accord with a regulation issued by the U. S. Secretary of Agriculture, governing eligibility for positions in the BAI. The school's best recommendation was in the recognition of its graduates by the government, which employed many of them in the U.S. Cavalry, BAI, in the quarantine and meat inspection service.

The school was depleted by the draft of World War I and closed its doors in 1918. Smithcors (1975) notes in "The Veterinarian in America" that the KCVC was noted for its excellent instruction; in 1905, over 40% of all veterinarians in the BAI were KCVC graduates. The Interstate Casket Company used the buildings from 1918 until sometime in the 1930's. The building burned in June 1956, and was razed the following month. Today, the ground is not in use, except for the north half of the block, which was cut away for the construction of I-70.

KCVC transfer to Kansas State Agricultural College

Willard's History of Kansas State College and Applied Sciences (1940) reports that President Jardine had scarcely taken office before an unusual and important proposal came up for action. Tfter a creditable career extending over many years, the KCVC decided upon consideration of the development of veterinary colleges in state universities and elsewhere (which offered curricula based on standard college entrance requirements and weresupported by public funds), it would be better to close. The KCVC proposed to transfer its students to the KSAC on as favorable terms as possible and to donate to it a valuable museum of specimens illustrating pathological conditions.

Dr. R.R. Dykstra, Dean E.L. Holton, and Vice President J. T. Willard were appointed a committee of the Council of Deans to draw up suitable recommendations to the Board of Administration leading to the taking over of the KCVC. After all persons concerned were consulted, a plan was readily agreed upon. The essential points of the plan were that KSAC, in accepting the good will and academic records of the KCVC, would engage to preserve the records, and to respond to requests for information concerning graduate and former students of the KCVC. Whenever it prints lists of its own alumni, it would also print lists of the alumni of the KCVC. KSAC would receive as junior students all high school graduates who had done satisfactory freshman and sophomore work, and thus accord sophomore standing to all high school graduates who had completed satisfactorily the full work of the freshman year of the KCVC. And to be consistent with the standard requirements for graduation from KSAC, any transferred student of the KCVC could then be conferred with the degree doctor of veterinary medicine at KSAC.

The arrangements for taking over the students of this college were approved by the Board of Administration, June 28, 1918, and the transfer was made the next September with the special assistance of Dr. A.T. Kinsley, dean of the faculty of the KCVC. Dr. Albert Thomas Kinsley was one of the early faculty members and graduates from the KCVC.