The College of Veterinary Medicine here at ISU has a long and storied history. It the first state-funded veterinary school in the United States and continues to be a well-regarded college 136 years after its founding. It has been headquartered at multiple locations on the ISU campus and it’s current home was built just south of campus in 1976. A great deal of information on this “new” facility is available in the recently processed College of Veterinary Medicine Administrative Records, RS 14/1/8, along with general administrative correspondence, committee minutes and reports, annual reports, accreditation records, awards given out by the college, and materials regarding brucellosis.
The first building to house the vet school was South Hall in 1879. In 1881, it moved to North Hall, and in 1885 relocated to the Sanitary Building (Cranford Hall), now the site of the Memorial Union. The school’s headquarters moved to Old Agricultural Hall (now Catt Hall) in 1893 and remained there until 1912, when the Veterinary Quadrangle (now Lagomarcino Hall) was completed. The Quadrangle consisted of four buildings with a courtyard in the middle. A fifth building to the north was expanded into the Stange Memorial Clinic in 1938, now Industrial II. In 1956, the Veterinary Diagnostic Building was completed. However, by the 1950s, the Division of Veterinary Medicine, as it was known at the time, was outgrowing its facilities. It wasn’t long before plans were being made to create a new complex for what would become the College of Veterinary Medicine.
An early 1960s proposal entitled “Proposal for New Veterinary Medical Facilities” (Box 26, Folder 1), outlines reasons and proposed plans for a new complex for the College of Veterinary Medicine. According to the proposal, demand for veterinarians was at the highest it had ever been at that point, and was about 3 or 4 times the supply and their was a “critical need for more veterinarians in Iowa.” Teaching facilities at the time were inadequate, and enrollment was projected to increase, the combination of which would put the college’s accreditation at risk. It pointed out that previous reports indicated that $10 million would be needed for the remodel of its established facilities and predicted that new facilities could be built for the same price. This would free up the Quadrangle for use by other colleges on campus.
It was proposed that the new facilities be built just north of the existing Veterinary Medicine Research Institute near Highway 30, and highlighted the many advantages of this location. These included proximity to existing research facilities and the nearness of Highway 30, which would better enable vets to get out to the country for emergency visits and would be more accessible to out-of-town clients. The only disadvantages addressed were the physical separation of Vet Med from other teaching facilities, isolation from the library, and the possible hindrance of interdisciplinary efforts.
Ultimately, it was concluded that the college would eventually be removed from campus. As we know, new facilities were indeed built in the proposed area. The disadvantage of the distance of the campus library was remedied by establishing the Veterinary Medicine Library at the new complex, plans for which can be found in Box 26, Folder 8. Plans for improving the Vet Med facilities evolved over the course of the 1960s, and many, many grant applications were submitted over the years, which are also in this collection.
After years of planning and securing funds, the College of Veterinary Medicine complex was completed in 1976 for $25.6 million – a notably higher price tag than initially proposed. The dedication ceremony was held on October 16, 1976 in conjunction with an academic symposium on October 15th. George C. Christensen (Vice President for Academic Affairs and former Dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine) presided over the ceremony, with speeches given by Durwood L. Baker (Associate Dean, College of Veterinary Medicine), Frank K. Ramsey (Distinguished Professor, Veterinary Pathology), Mary Louise Petersen (President, State Board of Regents), and W. Robert Parks (President of Iowa State University). Philip T. Pearson (Dean, College of Veterinary Medicine), gave the acceptance speech. A map of the Vet Med complex today can be viewed here.
For more information, please come in and look through this collection and any of our other Vet Med collections. We’d love to see you!