Half a century ago, it wasn’t unusual to see this sight: two students lead a cow past Haring Hall, site of the newly established School of Veterinary Medicine. (UC Davis archival photo, 1957)
Vet med’s beginnings
The first class of the School of Veterinary Medicine had seen tough times before its members began their veterinary education.
Of the 42 students who enrolled in 1948, 41 had served in World War II. These fellows didn't sweat the small stuff.
At the groundbreaking for the new vet school, pre-vet students ignored an April rain and dug the first earth for Haring Hall with a blue-and-gold shovel.
Early students demonstrated a willingness to get things done. Though campus leaders had planned to open the school in 1949 or 1950, pre-veterinary students convinced administrators to begin classes in September 1948.
Some older than the profs
After all, the average student’s age was 30 — some students were older than their professors. Also, most were eager to fill the need for livestock vets created by the expansion of animal agriculture throughout California.
During their studies, many worked as carpenters and laborers to build Haring Hall.
Those enthusiastic members of the Class of 1952, all men, became pioneers in veterinary medicine and education.
Today, almost 80 percent of the school's more than 500 students are women pursuing small-animal medicine and specialties unheard of in 1948. These students benefit from knowledge and technology that the first class did not possess.
Nevertheless, they share with their predecessors the same commitment to the health and well-being of animals.
After 60 years, the School of Veterinary Medicine remains one of a kind.
It is the first professional school at UC Davis, the only veterinary school in the UC system, and the only public school in California authorized to confer the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree.