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Thursday, January 14, 2016


By Donald F. Smith, DVM, DACVS
Posted January 14, 2016

Author's Note: This is the second of six contiguous articles on veterinary medicine at Texas A&M University, in honor of the college’s centennial year.

Mark Francis was the founder and the first dean of the Texas A&M School of Veterinary Medicine (as it was called then). He had been the first veterinary graduate of the Ohio State University and arrived in the late 1880s at the land-grant Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas (now Texas A&M University). For almost two decades even before the college was actually formed, Francis taught courses in the veterinary sciences and conducted  research on the tick-borne protozoal disease called Texas Cattle Fever that was stifling the cattle industry.

Current dean Eleanor Green attributes the economic relationship to the cattle industry as the rationale for establishing the veterinary college. “Cattle and Texas Fever,” Green says, “is what justified establishing a separate college and providing funding for the veterinary college in Texas in 1916 (personal communication, 2014).

Francis remained dean for 20 years after the college was established in 1916. The second, third and fourth deans (Ross Marsteller, Ralph Dunn and Ivan Boughton) were also graduates of Ohio State. Boughton served until 1953, when Willis Armistead was appointed. A World War II veteran, Armistead was a Texas A&M alumnus and also held an appointment as AVMA president (1957-58). He was dean at Texas A&M for only four years, then moved to Michigan State University and later to the University of Tennessee, serving as veterinary dean at both universities.

During Alvin Price’s deanship (1957-73), the college assumed responsibility for teaching large numbers of undergraduate students in the pre-professional curriculum. It was not until 2004 that the name was changed to College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, reflecting this increased responsibility.

Texas A&M alumnus George Shelton ’48 was the college’s seventh dean. Referred to many as a “students’ dean”, the college expanded greatly in size and programs during his 15-year tenure. The first endowed professorship was also created during this period.

Another Ohio State alumnus named John Shadduck served as dean for seven years. Highly respected as a national leader, Shadduck led the college through a period of major research growth and development. He enhanced the DVM teaching programs by including veterinarians in private practice and those in research institutions outside of academia. He also presided over the construction of a new veterinary research building and new large animal hospital.

Texas alumnus H. Richard Adams ’66, who had led the veterinary college at the University of Missouri returned to his alma mater in 1998 and served as dean until 2009. During his tenure, the college continued to expand and develop its research programs in concert with many external collaborators including Baylor College of Medicine.

During Adams’ deanship, Professor Bonnie Beaver became the first female chair of the AVMA’s Executive Board (now called the Board of Directors) and was elected to the AVMA presidency in 2004.

Dr. Smith invites comments at   He also acknowledges the assistance of Dean Eleanor Green and Megan Palsa, PhD (Executive Director of Communications, Media and Public Relations) for their assistance. 

The topic for the next blog (Tuesday, January 18th) is the current dean of the college, Dr. Eleanor Green.