When it opened in 1981, the current Small Animal Teaching Hospital was considered state-of-the-art and plenty spacious. “One of my favorite stories about this facility is from Phil Hobson, a former chief of small animal surgery, who was largely responsible for this building,” shared Dr. Stacy Eckman ’01, associate dean for hospital operations. She stood in a hallway lined with a piece of operating equipment under a tarp, a cart of clean scrubs, a file cabinet and a step stool. “He said that he was roundly criticized for how big it was.”
Since then, much has changed in veterinary medicine and at the school. All over the country, demand for veterinary medicine is booming, with pet care expenditures expected to triple by 2030. Procedures and treatments have become more precise and complex, requiring more sophisticated equipment, training and staff.
Since the hospital’s opening, the number of services offered has expanded from two to 16, including ophthalmology and cardiology. The caseload has jumped from 6,000 per year in 1981 to more than 23,000 annually today. In the same timeframe, the class size has increased from 73 to 180, the number of first-year veterinary students who entered in fall 2022. Clinical and research trials have grown as well. The only things that seemingly haven’t increased are the size and sophistication of the space.
Still, the school’s reputation continues to soar, ranking fourth in the nation by U.S. News and World Report.
“In the end, it’s the people who make the difference. Through their expertise and compassion, they work miracles in a facility that is not 100% of what we would expect,” said August. “But the new hospital will round out the reputation of our school. We have faculty, staff and students who work extraordinarily hard and deserve to have the very best facility in which to do their great work.”