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Sunday, February 21, 2016

Legendary Tuskegee Veterinarian Dr. Eugene W. Adams Passes

By Donald F. Smith, DVM, DACVS
February 21, 2016

Dr. Eugene W. Adams of Tuskegee University, one of that school's pioneers and most distinguished faculty, died at his home this morning, February 21, 2016. A faculty member for 38 years, and the author of the seminal book on the history of Tuskegee’s veterinary school, Adams was a true legend.

Adams received his DVM from Kansas State University and joined the Tuskegee faculty in 1947. Initially a member of the Department of Large Animal Medicine and Surgery, he later assisted in teaching physiology and pharmacology. Shortly after his appointment to department chair (1955), he began graduate work at Cornell University and received his PhD in 1961. Adams later served as associate dean, and finished his career as vice provost and director of the university’s international programs.  
Dr. Eugene W. Adams, Tuskegee University
Photo by the Author, 2012
I had the wonderful opportunity to interview Dr. Adams while visiting Tuskegee in September 2012. Already well into his 90s, he regaled me with stories of the early history of Tuskegee as the young faculty struggled to establish the school and gain AVMA accreditation. He credited the warm relationship between Cornell's William A. Hagan who was dean at the time, and Tuskegee's Dean T. S. Williams for providing institutional advice and guidance. Hagan and Williams had much in common, having received their DVM degrees from Kansas State University. Hagan later became the chair of the AVMA's first review team for Tuskegee that eventually recommended its full accreditation in 1954. 

It was Hagan’s support and encouragement that facilitated Adams traveled to Cornell in the late 1950s for graduate study. Dr. Adams reminisced about his Cornell experience, how he never recalled hearing racial slur nor a negative comment from anyone at the university. He also credited Cornell’s administration with providing a research stipend that equaled his fellowship from Tuskegee. Together, the two sources of support provided him a salary equivalent to what he had as a full faculty member back at Tuskegee. 

Dr. Eugene and Mrs. Myrtle Adams, Tuskegee University
Photo by the author, 2012
In addition, because of the added financial support, Mrs. Adams was able to join him after his first year in Ithaca, and they were able to move from a rented room on Linden Avenue where he had lived alone, to the more comfortable Cascadilla Hall. 

Dr. Smith invites comments at

Tuesday, January 19, 2016


By Donald F. Smith, DVM, DACVS
Posted January 18, 2016

Author’s Note: This is the third of six articles honoring the centennial of Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences.

The Women who shaped the West Changed the World is the slogan of the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame where Dean Eleanor Green of Texas A&M University was inducted in 2013. She shares the honor with such notables as animal welfare advocated Temple Grandin, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and former AVMA Council on Education member and rancher, JoAnne Smith.

Dr. Green’s career is one of firsts, serving as the first woman department head and chair of the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences at the University of Tennessee, and the first large animal hospital director and hospital chief of staff at the University of Florida.

Dr. Eleanor Green, Dean of College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences
(Courtesy of TexasA&M University)

A DVM from Auburn University, Dr. Green was one of just three women in her 1973 class). She is a recognized leader in the equine industry, having owned and shown horses most of her life, winning circuit, state and national championships and numerous awards. She was the first woman to officiate at a National Intercollegiate Livestock Judging Competition, and has served on boards of various horse industry organizations. In 2008, she served as the 54th president of the American Association of Equine Practitioners, the first woman to be elected to that position.

Dr. Green started her veterinary career as owner-partner of a mixed animal practice in Mississippi. When Mississippi State University established its veterinary college in the mid 1970s, she became a founding faculty member and its only woman. Though she never had a goal of becoming an administrator, Dean Green always had an unrelenting passion for leadership, whether in teaching, clinical work, research or the workplace around her. She is a voracious reader of books on leadership and once participated as the only veterinarian in an intensive case-based leadership program at Harvard. 

A recognized clinical specialist, Dr. Green is Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine and also the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners.

With her appointment in 2009, she became the first female dean at the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences at Texas A&M University.  

Dr. Smith invites comments at

Monday, January 18, 2016


By Donald F. Smith, DVM, DACVS

Posted January 18, 2015

Author’s Comment: Centennial-Year tributes to the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences at Texas A&M University will continue tomorrow with installment three of the six-part series. Today, we honor Tuskegee University’s veterinary heritage.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is an ideal time for veterinarians to also celebrate the rich heritage that Tuskegee University has brought to our profession.

In the mid 1940s, Frederick Douglass Patterson DVM, MS, PhD founded the college at a time when there were only 70 African-American veterinarians in the entire country. They had been educated over the previous half century at several institutions, most notably Kansas State, Cornell, Iowa State and Penn.  

Tuskegee admitted its first white students in the mid 1960s, and is now the most racial and ethnically-diverse veterinary institution in the country.

Take a moment to ponder the breath and impact of just a few of the most notable Tuskegee DVM graduates. Among them are:

  • Rear Admiral Roscoe Moore ’69, the highest-ranking veterinarian in all the uniformed services, who served as former assistant surgeon general of the US Public Health Service;
  • The three alumni currently serving as deans in US veterinary colleges. At ten percent of all the deans currently appointed, this is the highest percentage of all alumni bodies. They are Phillip Nelson ’79 (Western University of the Health Sciences), Ruby Perry ’77 (Tuskegee) and Willie Reed ’78 (Purdue);
  • Michael Blackwell ’75, who was veterinary dean at the University of Tennessee (2000-2008). Prior to that, he was chief of staff to the Office of the Surgeon General;
  • Ted Cohn ’75, AVMA president in 2014-15;
  • Jan Strother ’86, who served as AVMA vice president (2010-12) and is a now candidate for AVMA president-elect;
  • Andrea Dennis-LaVigne ’82, who recently served as president of the Connecticut Veterinary Medical Association;
  • Linda Jacobson ’71, who was president of the New York State Veterinary Medical Society in 2012, and before that was president of the North American Veterinary Conference (now Community).

Tuskegee’s veterinary history and accomplishments are worthy of recognition throughout the year, but it is especially appropriate to pause on this special day that also honors the life and impact of Martin Luther King, Jr.