Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine

The College of Veterinary Medicine at Washington State University was first organized as an academic unit in September 1899 and is America’s fifth oldest. It first occupied a lean-to shed on the side of the Armory Building that was built in 1895 with a $60 dollar appropriation to support the teaching of the veterinary arts. The clinic operated as a free service one day a week and ailing animals were often temporarily pastured on the campus lawns. 

Even before the college was founded, since the first day the university opened, there has always been a veterinarian on WSU’s faculty. From those humble beginnings, the college is now one of the flagship programs of the university and occupies all or part of 11 major buildings in Pullman, Spokane, and Puyallup, Washington, with annual budget of nearly $80 million.

The college is organized around five major academic units: the Departments of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, Veterinary Microbiology & Pathology, and Integrative Physiology & Neuroscience; and the Schools of Molecular Biosciences and Global Animal Health. The college is also home to the Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory, the Veterinary Teaching Hospital, and the nation’s oldest partnership with the Animal Disease Research Unit of the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service.

Organized research centers also include the Center for the Study of Animal Well-being, the Center for Reproductive Biology, and the Animal Health Research Center. The college also houses an advanced and innovative Communication Laboratory and medical communication training program, a growing clinical skills and simulations facility and program, and the first veterinary-college based Teaching Academy, whose mission is to develop and reward faculty to “make teaching matter.” 

College degree programs serve 180 graduate students and nearly 600 undergraduate students. By 2015 the college will have approximately 450 veterinary students pursuing their DVM degree in Pullman, WA, with an additional 70 students in either first- or second-year studies at Utah State University or Montana State University as part of the WIMU Regional Program.

The acronym WIMU stands for the Washington–Idaho–Montana–Utah regional program in veterinary medicine, a partnership between the WSU CVM, the University of Idaho, Montana State University, and Utah State University. In addition, the WSU CVM provides DVM education to students from Arizona, Hawaii, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, and Wyoming through participation in the Western Interstate Commission of Higher Education (WICHE).

In addition to clinical and diagnostic services and disease surveillance provided through the Veterinary Teaching Hospital and the Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory, the College also engages in significant outreach to regional stakeholders through Veterinary Extension, Continuing Education, and the Field Disease Investigations Unit.

From their roots in efforts to significantly change the face of the College with respect to its research mission, which began in the 1960s and 1970s, our cutting edge programs are now focused primarily in areas of 1) DNA organization, repair & chromosome biology, 2) systems neurosciences, 3) reproductive & developmental sciences; 4) tissue bioengineering and & remodeling, 5) individualized medicine, 6) immunology & infectious disease, and 7) global animal health. With over $20 million in annual competitive extramural research expenditures, the college regularly ranks among the top five U.S. veterinary colleges in receipt of Federal grant and contract funds from the NIH, USDA, and NSF.

  • 1892 — The State Agricultural College, Experiment Station, and School of Science located in Pullman opens its doors to students. Charles E. Munn, a veterinarian, is among the six founding faculty members, and for every day of WSU’s history since, veterinarians have served on the faculty.
  • 1895 — The Board of Regents authorizes a, "…shed constructed at the south end of the armory for the veterinary department, the cost not to exceed $60.00." It is the university’s first teaching hospital for “the veterinary arts”. The clinic begins as a free service on one day a week only. Ailing animals are often temporarily pastured on the lawns of campus.
  • 1899 — The first professional class of three veterinary students is admitted to the School of Veterinary Science; two of these three become the first WSU veterinary graduates in 1902.
  • 1925 — The School of Veterinary Science becomes the College of Veterinary Medicine.
  • 1930 — Dr. Myron Thom (WSU '29) begins pioneering radiology as a science and therapeutic modality in veterinary medicine.
  • 1934 - 1940 — Dr. E.B. Ehmer works with the Kirschner Manufacturing Company of Vashon, Washington, to develop the Kirschner-Ehmer half-pin splint. To this day, the fundamental device and modifications are still used by many veterinarians.
  • 1936 — The DVM curriculum takes on its present-day form of a four-year professional course of study following pre-veterinary studies.
  • 1938 — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Dean E. E. Wegner begin a cooperative research program into the diseases of fur bearing animals. The strong and productive relationship is subsequently reorganized as the Animal Disease Research Unit of the USDA Agricultural Research Service. It is the longest running such program in the U.S.
  • 1941 — Dr. E. C. McCulloch publishes the seminal work, Disinfection and Sterilization; the first book written by an active faculty member.
  • 1948 — The first graduate degree awarded by the college is earned by one of its alumni. Dr. John Gorham (WSU '46) earns his Masters of Science Degree in pathology under Dr. D. R. Cordy. Later the pair goes on to discover a rickettsia that is the cause of salmon disease in dogs and foxes.
  • 1957 — Drs. H. A. Smith and T. C. Jones (WSU '34) publish the first edition of their landmark text, Veterinary Pathology.
  • 1961 — The first NIH training grant awarded to a college of veterinary medicine is obtained by WSU to support training in Immunology; this grant has continued to be funded to this day.
  • 1960 — Drs. D. C. Blood and dean J. A. Henderson publish the first edition of Veterinary Medicine. The book goes on to become the authoritative text on large animal medicine for a generation of veterinary students.
  • 1979 — WSU creates the Washington-Oregon-Idaho Regional Program in Veterinary Medical Education. Known as WOI, this program also served Alaska, Arizona, Hawaii, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, North Dakota, and Wyoming students through the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE).
  • 1989 — WSU introduced the first elective alternative laboratory course on basic surgical techniques that uses animal cadavers for humane reasons to eliminate the use of live animals for education. For a time, this course served students from multiple colleges of veterinary medicine.
  • 1991 — The college introduces the Diagnostic Challenge into the curriculum providing veterinary students with a real-world, real-time disease diagnostic case simulation. The method is later recognized internationally for its outstanding teaching and educational value.
  • 1993 — WSU’s veterinary college creates The Center for the Study of Animal Well-being (CSAW). The Center formalizes the study of the human-animal bond, pioneered by Dean Leo Bustad, and other animal welfare issues.
  • 1998 — Drs. Katherine O'Rourke, Timothy Baszler and Steven Parish (WSU ’73), and USDA Animal Disease Research Unit leader Dr. Donald Knowles develop the first practical, preclinical test for scrapie in sheep.
  • 2001 — Dr. Katrina Mealey discovers the MDR1 gene mutation shown to be the cause of sensitivity to ivermectin and other drugs in herding dog breeds. Shortly after, she will develop and patent the world’s first test for the MDR1 mutation, dramatically advancing the pharmacologic safety for prescribing these drugs. This research program continues to build in the form of a strategic initiative in Individualized Medicine.
  • 2003 — A team of WSU faculty led by Drs. Kathy Ruby, Rick DeBowes, and Gil Burns creates the Cougar Orientation and Leadership (COLE) program for incoming veterinary students, which has served as a model for the profession. This team goes on to launch the Veterinary Leadership Experience (VLE) and edit the Exceptional Veterinary Team magazine.
  • 2006 — Dr. Guy Palmer is elected to the National Academies of Science, Institute of Medicine.
  • 2007 — The Paul G. Allen School for Global Animal Health is founded with a mission to improve the lives and economic security of the world’s poorest peoples. The build out of this faculty and its programs continue to this day.
  • 2009 — Dr. Terry McElwain is elected to the National Academies of Science, Institute of Medicine.
  • 2010 — The School of Molecular Bioscience and Center for Reproductive Biology are reorganized under the WSU College of Veterinary Medicine, increasing the college’s faculty numbers by 20% and bringing to the college three undergraduate degree programs in Biochemistry, Genetics/Cell Biology, and Microbiology to join the existing undergraduate program in Neuroscience
  • 2010 — The first organized Teaching Academy at a veterinary college is launched to help “make teaching matter” and foster faculty development as scholarly teachers and teaching scholars.
  • 2012 — The Paul G. Allen Center for Global Animal Health building opens thanks to two of the largest private commitments in WSU history. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation provided $25 million in funding and Paul G. Allen Foundation contributed $26 million. The Allen Center is the flagship facility housing Allen School programs.
  • 2011 - 2014 — The Washington-Idaho-Montana-Utah Regional Program in Veterinary Medical Education is developed. Known as WIMU, the program continues to also serve students from other western states through WICHE.