Power Of The Bond Reinvigorates UC Davis

At the VMIF dedication and the UC Davis commencement ceremony, it was apparent that the power of the human/animal bond brought everyone together and refreshed the campus.

The new Veterinary Medical Instructional Facility at the University of California, Davis, was named posthumously in honor of Gladys Valley, who donated the early seed money to the building campaign in the amount of $10.6 million. The VMIF was dedicated on June 15.

Alumnus Dr. Michael Floyd donated $1 million.

For his spirit of generosity, the central commons area of this remarkable "green" building is named "Floyd Commons" in his honor. VCA Antech supported the VMIF by sponsoring the two largest auditoriums as part of the donor-naming opportunity program.

When the Davis class of 1955 celebrated its 50th anniversary, Dr. Bill Wetmore presented a $31,000 class gift and a classroom will be named in its honor. Name plaques appear on classroom tables, suites, study areas, seats and lockers which are dedicated to friends, family members and pets as part of the donor naming and "take a seat" program.

You may recall that in 1998, the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine was placed on limited accreditation status by the American Veterinary Medical Assn. The university was cited for lack of updated and improved teaching and research facilities despite being widely regarded as No. 1 in the world.

This citation was a shock for the Davis faculty, the California VMA, the Southern California VMA, Davis alumni and members of our profession in the state.

Faculty and students had adjusted to the way things were at the campus. Students had to run from Haring Hall to the teaching hospital for classes and clinics. The teaching and research faculty at Davis accepted the running back and forth, the crowding, and the aging campus facilities as part of statewide cutbacks on education.

Despite these physical and structural disparities, UC Davis remained the No. 1 veterinary college in the world, with its outstanding resident programs, numerous Ph.D. and master of Public Health degree programs. This ranking was due to spectacular teaching and undaunted spirit. 

Dean Bennie Osborn, with the help of Mr. Kelly Nimtz, Drs. Michael Floyd and John Shirley, members of the CVMA and SCVMA and others, organized a monumental fundraising effort.

California veterinarians were asked to join The Dean's Honor Roll of Donors and to inform industry and clients of the naming opportunities within the planned facilities.

The VMIF committee was co-chaired by Drs. Neils Pedersen and Michael Floyd. Committee members David Barnett, George Bishop, James Bittle, Gregg Cutler, Jerry Kaneko, Carol McConnell, Tom Mack, Susan Parry, C. Paul Ulrich, Dennis Wilds and Ed Rhode planned hundreds of fundraising activities.

Their goals were to construct the veterinary school's first permanent classroom in more than 50 years. This  "instructional heart" of the school will provide future students with some of the key educational features needed in a high-quality veterinary educational facility.

Since 1998, great effort has been made to raise more than $300 million from multiple sources including the private pet care-giving community, industry and the profession.

It seemed a daunting task to raise the kind of money needed to fund so much new construction. However, the State of California reversed its cutback policy and matched funds for the proposed buildings.

The old Haring Hall Barn was torn down. This signaled the start of the transition from central campus buildings to a consolidated School of Veterinary Medicine "campus."

New buildings would surround the veterinary medical teaching hospital. One of the first buildings finished was the Vet Med Laboratory Facility for large and small animal surgery instruction.

In 2002, the Large Animal Clinic was expanded with new classrooms and surgery facilities. A new Equine Athletic Performance Facility was built, thanks to a starter donation of $1.6 million from the Claire Giannini Foundation.

In 2004, the Center for Companion Animal Health opened, made possible by a remarkable seed donation from the founding father of the UCD Oncology Service, editor and author of the first veterinary oncology textbook and my mentor, Dr. Gordon Theilen, the guidance of Dr. Neils Pedersen, and donations from numerous supporters, memorial gifts and state funds.

The center's wonderful waiting room emanates a comforting atmosphere for clients. The center houses the entire oncology service on the main floor. Faculty offices, study areas and research facilities for genetics and oncology are on the second floor.

The Cancer Center offers state of the art three-dimensional radiation treatment plans based on CT and MRI imaging coordinated into computer software. Therapy is delivered by a high-power linear accelerator to the exact areas needed, while sparing normal tissues, by using intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT).

Professor of radiological sciences Dr. Alain Theon, who is also chief of the Oncology Service, heads the department with assistant professor Dr. Michael Kent and second year resident Dr. Ira Gordon.
The facility was designed to provide IMRT service accessible for all species of pet animals including avian, exotics and equine oncology patients.

The CCAH also houses the Physical Rehabilitation Service of the VMTH. This service began in 2004 under the supervision of Jackie Woelz, MS, PT, who works with patients referred from neurology, orthopedics, medicine, oncology and ICU services. Additional buildings are planned. UC Davis has been reinstated with full accreditation by the AVMA and is confident in remaining No. 1 in the world.

At the VMIF dedication and the UC Davis commencement ceremony, there was a sense of pride and achievement. It was apparent that the power of the human/animal bond brought everyone together and refreshed the campus.

"The Bond" is the foundation for all the campuses that teach veterinary medicine in the entire world.
If you would like to see the new campus, come to Annual Fall (Schalm) Symposium. On Saturday, Sept. 16, there will be a Dean's Brunch, official guided tours, an evening barbecue and the UC Davis class of 1976 reunion.

On Sunday, Sept.  17, class runs 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The theme is Recent Advances in Clinical Veterinary Medicine and Feline Ultrasonography.

To register, visit: www.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/ce.html.

Dr. Villalobos is president of the American Assn. of Human-Animal Bond Veterinarians and is on the editorial review board of the Society for Veterinary Medical Ethics. She may be contacted at dralicev@aol.com.


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