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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Cornell's DVM Class of 2015 (150th Anniversary)

Blog by Donald F. Smith, Cornell University, 01.26.11

This a special welcome to the students who comprise the Veterinary Class of 2015 at Cornell University. You are on track to complete your DVM degree during the 150th anniversary of the university.

Our founder, Ezra Cornell, was an entrepreneur who built a vast telegraph network for Samuel Morse. After amassing his fortune in Western Union stock, Cornell returned to his first love, farming. He acquired an expansive land tract on the top of the hill overlooking Cayuga Lake and then set to work fulfilling his dream of providing an educational institution where any person could find instruction in any study.

Ezra Cornell Statue
Arts Quad, Cornell University

Working jointly with Andrew Dickson White, a highly-educated state senator, Mr. Cornell convinced New York to provide the state’s Land Grant designation, and Cornell University was founded in April 1865. Cornell provided his farm and $500,000 of his own money, an enormous sum at that time, as an initial endowment for the institution.

White was named the university's first president. During the next three years, he oversaw the construction of two buildings and traveled throughout the U.S. and Europe to recruit faculty. Because of Ezra Cornell’s love of agriculture and the challenges that he had keeping his own livestock healthy, he insisted that President White include veterinary medicine among the first subjects to be taught.

James Law from the Edinburgh Veterinary College was recruited to be Cornell’s first professor of veterinary medicine and he arrived from Scotland in time for the inauguration of the university in October 1868. One of his students was a New Jersey resident named Daniel Salmon who became famous for the discovery of the organism Salmonella. Dr. Salmon also established the Bureau of Animal Industry, the national network of meat inspection that later became the United States Department of Agriculture’s food inspection program.

James Law served as professor, then dean, for 40 years. He oversaw the establishment of Cornell’s first state-supported college in 1894. This allowed him to hire five additional faculty and accept many more students. Law was a steadfast proponent of the concept of One Medicine, by which veterinarians and physicians worked together to promote both human and animal health.

As members of Cornell’s Sesquicentennial Veterinary Class, you have the opportunity to continue the legacy of James Law and the approximately 6,000 alumni/ae who graduated before you.  

Congratulations and welcome.

Dr. Smith invites comments at