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.