College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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A Look Back at Our College Leaders

Robert K. Graham - 1945-1956

Dean GrahamDean Graham came to the University of Illinois in 1917, joining the Department of Animal Husbandry. He pursued his vision for a strong Extension program and diagnostic service to aid the livestock industry and protect public health. He also lobbied tirelessly for the creation of the College of Veterinary Medicine and in 1945, he became its first dean. The first class started instruction in 1948 in a former sorority house. In 1952, a new basic sciences building was completed, the first professional veterinary class—consisting of 24 World War II veterans— graduated, and the College’s first PhD degree was granted. The following year, Dr. Lyle Hanson, who later joined the faculty, became the first to earn a master’s degree from the College. A Large Animal Clinic was built in 1955, while the Small Animal Clinic continued to operate in a former beef barn. Also in 1955, Dr. Dorothy Safanie became the first woman to earn a DVM from the College. Dean Graham earned a veterinary degree from Iowa State College and a master’s degree from the University of Kentucky. He served in the Veterinary Corps of the U.S. Army from 1917 to 1924 and developed the first antitoxin for botulinus poisoning in man.


Carl A. Brandly - 1956-1968

Dean BrandlyDean Brandly spearheaded the creation of the Center for Zoonoses Research, which was established in 1960. He was credited for his devotion to professional and graduate education. His worldwide service for the veterinary profession was recognized by the American Veterinary Medical Association’s 12th International Congress Prize. In 1963, in response to growing class size and inadequate facilities, the current site bounded by Lincoln Avenue, Hazelwood Drive, and St. Mary’s Road was identified for new construction and relocation of the College. The College’s first endowed scholarship, the Anna M. Gulick Scholarship, was established in 1964. Dean Brandly earned a veterinary degree and a master’s degree from Kansas State University. During World War II he served as director of the Huntington War Research Program on Exotic Diseases at Harvard University Medical School.


L. Meyer Jones - 1968-1976

Dean JonesDuring the tenure of Dean Jones, the two current hospital buildings were built—the Small Animal Clinic in 1971 and the Large Animal Clinic in 1976—and the College began its innovative use of computer-aided instruction with PLATO. Near the end of his deanship the College joined forces with the then-College of Agriculture to promote Food for Century III, a program that sought state dollars to help increase the contributions of the University of Illinois to the state’s food production industry through teaching, research, and Extension programs. Dean Jones received his veterinary and master’s degrees from Iowa State University and a PhD from the University of Minnesota Medical School. He was the author of an internationally known textbook, Veterinary Pharmacology and Therapeutics. Before becoming the dean at Illinois, he had led the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Georgia and served for five years as director of scientific activities at the American Veterinary Medical Association.


Richard E. Dierks - 1976-1989

Dr. DierksDuring his tenure, the College’s veterinary diagnostic laboratory gained greater prominence within the state diagnostic laboratory system. The current Veterinary Medicine Basic Sciences Building was completed in 1982, uniting all College facilities in one area for the first time. The Animal Poison Information Center originated as a service program at the College in 1978, and operated here for nearly 20 years before becoming part of the ASPCA. During the 1980s the College awarded 760 DVM degrees, 93 master’s degrees, and 61 PhD degrees. The College’s first endowed graduate student award, the Mariangela and Diego Segre Research Award, was also established then. Dean Dierks earned a DVM, a master’s, and a PhD degree at the University of Minnesota and was considered an expert in microbiology. He was a renowned veterinary statesman who held prominent service leadership positions in organized veterinary medicine and with the US Department of Agriculture.


Victor E.O. Valli - 1989-2001

Dean ValliUnder Dean Valli’s leadership, the College benefited from nearly $6 million in state funding through a new Venture Technology program. Both the Medical Scholars joint degree program and the clinical medicine PhD degree were established. In 1996 the veterinary class size was increased to 100 students. By the late 1990s, the rising proportion of women veterinary students stabilized at about 75 percent. Dean Valli fostered strong connections with the professional students by hosting welcome and graduation events in his home and by lecturing in histology. In 1995, the College’s first class endowment was created by the Class of 1962 to support a speaker at the Annual Fall Conference for Veterinarians. Dean Valli received a DVM degree from the University of Toronto as well as master’s and PhD degrees from Ontario Veterinary College, where he also chaired the Department of Pathology and served as associate dean of research before coming to Illinois. He served in the South Alberta Regiment from 1945 to 1954.


Herbert E. Whiteley - 2001-2013

Dean WhiteleyDean Whiteley led the College through a period of tremendous innovation despite budgetary constraints. During his tenure the College introduced the innovative Illinois model of veterinary education, which greatly expanded students’ clinical exposure and hands-on experiences while integrating basic science education to emphasize clinical relevance. The Chicago Center for Veterinary Medicine was established to expand the College’s reach in clinical service and student recruiting. Dean Whiteley led a campus initiative to foster multidisciplinary collaborations in translational biomedical research—translating discoveries in the basic sciences into relevant medical applications. The College gained its first endowed chair and increased the number of scholarship endowments and class endowments under Dean Whiteley. Dean Whiteley earned a veterinary degree from Purdue University and a PhD from Colorado State University. He is board certified by the American College of Veterinary Pathology, with an emphasis in ocular disease. After serving on the faculty at Illinois for more than 10 years, he spent six years heading the Department of Pathobiology and Veterinary Science at the University of Connecticut and the Connecticut Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory before returning to Illinois as dean.


Peter D. Constable - 2014 -

Dean ConstableDean Constable took the helm with a focus on expanding the College’s leadership in innovative veterinary education, excellent patient care, and vital biomedical research. He began his academic career at the College in 1993 as an assistant professor in the department of veterinary clinical medicine, and returned as dean after having served as head of the veterinary clinical sciences department at Purdue University from 2006 to 2013. Dean Constable earned his veterinary degree from the University of Melbourne, Australia, and practiced in Australia and England before joining The Ohio State University for an ambulatory internship and a food animal medicine and surgery residency, as well as master’s and doctoral degrees in cardiovascular physiology. He is board certified by the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine and the American College of Veterinary Nutrition and is widely published. He is a coauthor of the tenth edition of Veterinary Medicine: A Textbook of the Diseases of Cattle, Horses, Sheep, Pigs, and Goats.