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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