Our 125th Anniversary: A note from Dean Warnick

On this day 125 years ago, the New York State Legislature passed an act establishing a State Veterinary College at Cornell University. Signed into law by Governor Roswell P. Flower, the act appropriated $50,000  “for the purpose of constructing and equipping suitable buildings for such college upon the grounds of said university, at Ithaca, New York.” This not only formally established our College of Veterinary Medicine, it was also the first state college at Cornell University.

This moment was the culmination of tireless efforts on the part of our founding dean, Dr. James Law, whose more than twenty years of letters, visits, speeches, editorials and other lobbying efforts finally paid off in the spring of 1894.

Indeed, we have Law to thank for making veterinary medicine the respected and rigorous field of study that it is today. The Cornell Board of Trustees summed it up well when they wrote this note upon Law’s retirement in 1908:

 “Until he began to teach at Cornell, no American College had ever regarded veterinary medicine as deserving a place in the college curriculum. [The veterinary college now has] entrance requirements as high as those of many medical schools, and graduating men everywhere recognized as trained scientists. In less than forty years a new profession has been created in the United States and the praise and honor for doing this are in no small measure Dr. Law’s”

Law created a legacy that is as vibrant as ever. Our vision remains the same — to lead, enable and inspire others to attain a healthier world for animals and people. We’ve had many notable moments throughout this century and a quarter — from graduating the first woman veterinarian, to establishing the first ambulatory clinic in the country, to facilitating the first puppies born by in vitro fertilization, we’ve worked hard to earn our place as one of the top veterinary colleges in the world. This drive to better our world continues as we take the lead in new frontiers such as cancer research; planetary and public health; and business and entrepreneurship.

Ultimately, throughout our 125 years, our strength as a college is in the people who make up our community and the dedication and skill each of you bring. I thank you for the many ways you have contributed to our success and in making the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine an institution that inspires pride and improves the world.

As we reflect on the richness of our foundations, let us look forward with excitement towards the future.


Dean Lorin Warnick, D.V.M., Ph.D. '94