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History of Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine

Washington State University's College of Veterinary Medicine began as a $60 shed on the edge of Pullman, Washington's campus in September 1899. There were only three students enrolled when the program first began, and clients came from the eastern Washington and northern Idaho regions. The school has grown to include the University of Idaho's Caine Veterinary Teaching Center in Caldwell, Idaho, a cooperative program with Oregon State University's College of Veterinary Medicine, and a new, multi-million dollar state-of-the-art teaching hospital. The WSU College of Veterinary medicine now serves the entire Pacific Northwest.

In September of 1899, the “School of Veterinary Science” was opened with a three-year professional curriculum. Admission requirements were that the applicant must have one year of Latin with a minimum of two years of high school training. The professional curriculum was aimed at qualifying the graduate for private practice, public service, or original investigations. Patients were seen at the free clinic Friday afternoons only. This eventually increased to three afternoons per week, and a team of horses was added for transportation for farm calls. A state veterinarian provided material about prevalent contagious diseases in Washington to aid teaching.

In 1905, a four-year, B.Sc. option was added to the veterinary curriculum. High school graduation, or the equivalent, was required for admission to the four-year program that led to a B.Sc. or a “Doctor of Veterinary Science.” Graduation classes varied from 0 to 5 people between 1902 and 1907. In 1908, a faculty of six graduated five veterinarians.

Nine seniors graduated in 1909 and a new veterinary teaching building was constructed. A hospital was leased in Spokane, Washington to further the students' education. The veterinary school was growing in facilities, clientele, faculty, and students. In 1910, fifteen veterinarians graduated from the school of Veterinary Science.

In 1910, the veterinary school was bringing in enough money to pay an Assistant Professor of Anatomy $2,000.00 from the receipts from the Spokane hospital. In 1911, the following schedule of prices for the Pullman hospital was recommended to the Board of Regents: 60 cents per day for feed and care, 50 cents for floating horses' teeth; all other hospital treatment was free. In addition, drugs were priced as close to cost as possible, and farm calls charged at reasonable fees.

The degree of Doctor of Veterinary Science was changed to DVM upon the recommendation of the National Association of Veterinarians in 1913. Three years later the school was reorganized. The three-year “School of Veterinary Science” was discontinued and replaced with the four-year “College of Veterinary Science,” complete with a deanship. Dr. S.B. Nelson was appointed to this position.

Dean Nelson resigned in 1919 following political criticism over his efficient administration of the Agriculture Extension Service. (The politicians criticized him for increasing the production rather than marketing efficiency of the state's farmers). Dr. Earl E. Wegner became Vice-Dean at this time. Two years later he was promoted to Dean. Dean Wegner led the school through the transition from draft horse farming to mechanized farming.

Between 1914 and 1934, the number of students enrolled grew and fell regularly, although transfers from the failing San Francisco Veterinary College boosted the classes in 1920. The Spokane branch was discontinued in 1923 and all teaching was conducted at Pullman. The “College of Veterinary Science” became the “College of Veterinary Medicine” in 1925. The next twenty years were quiet, but productive.

The first year veterinary enrollment was limited to forty students in 1935. This prompted planning for expansion of the veterinary school. Plans for a classroom-laboratory building were drawn. In 1941, funds were appropriated for these structures and construction began. The clinic building (J.E. McCoy Hall) was first occupied in September 1942 and the classroom-laboratory building (E.E. Wegner Hall) in January 1943.

The first-year class was increased to fifty students in 1945, and the pre-veterinary requirement increased to two years in 1949. In 1968, application was restricted to residents of Washington or states under contract with WICHE (Western Interstate Commission of Higher Education). The entering class was increased to sixty in 1969. It increased to sixty-six in 1972, then seventy-two in 1974 when arrangements were made with Idaho. In 1972, a two-story addition was built on to McCoy hall, adding teaching space and faculty offices. The Bustad Veterinary Sciences building was completed in 1978.

Increased enrollment and an aging veterinary clinic spawned planning of a new teaching hospital in 1987 by Dean Robert B. Wilson. Under the administration of the current Dean, Borje Gustafsson, ground breaking for the new facility was begun in 1992. One million cubic yards of soil were removed to accommodate the building. Construction started in 1993 and was finally completed in fall of 1996. The cost of the new Veterinary Teaching Hospital was about $38 million, with a $10 million equipment budget. Much of the $10 million equipment budget was spent on state-of-the-art imaging and therapeutic equipment including a MRI, CT scanner, and Linear Accelerator.

The WSU College of Veterinary Medicine, under the guidance of Dean Gustafsson, has grown. The college now consists of Bustad Veterinary Science building, which includes the Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (WADDL), Wegner Hall, McCoy Hall, and the new Veterinary Teaching Hospital. Looking toward the future, fall, 1998, will mark the opening of the Animal Disease Biotechnology Facility, the only federally funded ADBF facility in the United States. This new facility will house WADDL, faculty laboratories and offices, and facilitate the expansion of the Veterinary Micropathology Department, continuing an excellent diagnostic and research tradition at WSU. All of this combine to provide an excellent veterinary medical education and progressive advanced medicine and surgery for the region's animal population.

History of Oregon State University College of Veterinary Medicine

Although the Veterinary College at Oregon State University is young, its roots in veterinary education run deep. In 1892, at what was then the “Agricultural College of the State of Oregon,” the first classes in Veterinary sciences were taught. By 1910 the School of Agriculture established the Department of Veterinary Science due in part by the college's President William Kerr 1908 annual report emphasizing a need for the department. In 1914 the Department of Veterinary Medicine was created and Dr. Bennett T. Simms DVM, was installed as the “Chief and Professor of Veterinary Medicine.” Over the next 24 years Dr. Simms, one of the leading veterinarians of his time, provided dynamic academic and technical leadership to firmly establish Veterinary Medicine as a core discipline. 1917 to 1958 was a time of rapid growth for the Department of Veterinary Medicine. Several facilities were added and research focused on the agricultural animal. In 1961 Oregon State College became Oregon State University.

A major turning point came in 1975 when the Oregon State Legislature established the School of Veterinary Medicine to increase opportunities for Oregonians to study veterinary medicine. Dr. E.E. Wedman became the first dean. Four years later, in 1979, the first classes began in the school's accredited, four-year professional program. Twenty-eight students from Oregon and 8 students from other western states enrolled in this unique regional program. The School of Veterinary Medicine became the College of Veterinary Medicine and the College's first graduates receive their degrees of Doctor of Veterinary Medicine in 1983.

Construction began on the new $8.5 million facility that would house the college in 1979. It offered expanded teaching facilities, clinical facilities, and diagnostic services. The facility was completed in 1980 and named after the late Oregon State Representative, Dick Magruder. This building is where the school is housed to this day and is known to all associated with the college as Magruder Hall.

The 1990's were a time a turmoil for the College of Veterinary Medicine. In 1992 budget cuts forced the governor to consider closing the college. Hundreds of concerned animal owners and producers converged on the State Capital Building in Salem to demonstrate their support for the Veterinary program, and in 1993 funding was restored for the veterinary program. The Board of Higher Education, as one of its main goals, voted to make funding for the veterinary program as a line-item budget. Thanks to the dedication to veterinary medicine, under Dean Robert Wilson, the fourteenth class will graduate from Oregon State University College of Veterinary Medicine in 1997.

WOI Regional Program in Veterinary Medical Education

The Program

The land-grant universities of Washington State, Oregon State, and Idaho participate in the WOI Regional Program in Veterinary Medical Education. The primary purpose of the WOI program is to provide the benefits of cost sharing in a cooperative program of veterinary medical education, and to improve access, quality and diversity of veterinary education to the three partner institutions.

The program began in 1974 with an agreement between Washington State University and the University of Idaho, and was expanded in 1979 to include Oregon State University. The program also serves nine western states without veterinary schools through the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE). WOI and WICHE students benefit from the program by paying tuition and fees at Washington State resident rates for veterinary medical education.

Students and Curriculum

Currently, 106 students are admitted annually to the WOI program, 36 of which are sponsored by OSU and 70 by WSU/UI. Of the 106 students, 16 are WICHE students and 11 are Idaho residents.

The WSU/UI-sponsored students obtain their core curriculum at WSU, and are awarded their D.V.M. degree from WSU. The OSU sponsored students spend their first year of study at the OSU campus in Corvallis, and then spend the next 15 months of training at the WSU campus in Pullman, where they complete their small animal clinical training. The remainder of their education, including large animal clinical training, is completed at OSU. These students are awarded their D.V.M. degree from OSU.


The WSU program has campuses in three areas: Pullman, Washington; Caldwell, Idaho; and Corvallis, Oregon. The OSU facility includes a teaching hospital with field services for large animals, a diagnostic laboratory, and resources for first-year basic science teaching. The University of Idaho's Caine Veterinary Teaching Center in Caldwell has large animal clinical facilities, focusing on herd medicine, that include laboratories, necropsy area, offices and a library. The WSU campus in Pullman provides a complete college of veterinary medicine, including the recently completed, state-of-the-art, $38 million veterinary teaching hospital.