The Texas A&M School of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (VMBS) is an institution that represents 100 years of growth from a small school of veterinary medicine in 1916 to its present role as a major veterinary educational, medical, and research center.
Dr. Mark Francis, who was the first trained veterinarian at what was then the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas, began by lecturing to agricultural students. Although he had no labs or equipment, Dr. Francis made his mark in veterinary medicine when he proved the tick was the cause of Texas cattle fever (which had plagued Southern livestock since the late 1700s) and developed inoculations against this devastating disease.
“It was the latter part of July or the first of August when I arrived at College Station. The college work at first was merely some classroom lectures to the agricultural students. There were no laboratories or equipment for this work. We had a room about 14 x 16 feet that was on the ground floor of the Main Building (destroyed by fire in May 1912) that served as office, classroom and laboratory. At the end of the school year (June 1889) the adjoining room became vacant and was assigned to us as a classroom. In this unsuitable place we toiled for 15 years. There was no hospital. Along about December 1888, a frame barn was built to serve this purpose. It was about 20 x 36 feet and was near where the Agriculture Building now stands. The following year a frame building was provided that served as a dissecting room.”
Eventually, in the 1930s, the veterinary hospital building was erected along with an anatomy building and stables to provide the students with useful hands-on learning opportunities. The veterinary hospital has been one of the cornerstones of VMBS’ history and academic prowess. As a teaching hospital, it still provides students with real-life medical cases while also providing much-needed services to the community.
1878 – The first attempt to teach veterinary science at Agricultural & Mechanical College of Texas (as Texas A&M University was called): the college surgeon, D. Port Smythe, M.D., was also listed on the faculty as professor of anatomy, physiology and hygiene, but no course is described and no further record is available to indicate that such a course was actually given.
1888 – In April, Agricultural & Mechanical College of Texas received a state appropriation of $2500 for equipping and operating its Department of Veterinary Science.
1888 – Texas Agricultural Extension Station established as a division of Texas A. and M. College under the provisions of the Hatch Act.
1888 – On June 6, Dr. Mark Francis received his formal appointment to the faculty, which marked the real beginning of professional veterinary medicine in Texas.
1902 – Erection of the Chemistry and Veterinary Building.
1903 – First Veterinary Association in Texas Organized at Fort Worth and Dr. Mark Francis elected president.
1908 – Veterinary Hospital Constructed.
1916 – School of Veterinary Medicine, with Dr. Mark Francis as the first Dean, opened its doors with 13 students in September.
1918 – Francis Hall built.
1920 – First grads (4) to receive DVM degrees from Texas A&M.
1929 – Texas A&M Student Chapter of the American Veterinary Medical Association organized.
1937 – Dr. Ross P. Marsteller appointed Dean.
1941 – Enrollment limited to 100 new students each year.
1947 – Dr. Ralph C. Dunn appointed Dean.
1948 – Dr. Ivan B. Boughton appointed Dean.
1949 – Veterinary Library opened.
1953 – Veterinary Medical Hospital built.
1953 – Dr. Willis W. Armistead appointed Dean.
1955 – Veterinary Sciences Building built.
1957 – Dr. Alvin A. Price appointed Dean.
1958 – Public Health Department (the precursor of today’s Department of Veterinary Integrative Biosciences) is formed.
1963 – The designation “College of Veterinary Medicine” replaced the former designation of “School of Veterinary Medicine.”
1963 – Women admitted (on a limited basis) to the DVM professional program.
1966 – First woman (Sonja Oliphant Lee) receives DVM degree from Texas A&M.
1967 – The Texas Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory (TVMDL) established.
1968 – Clinical Pathology Laboratory opens.
1970 – Biomedical Sciences program initiated.
1970 – First African American (James L. Courtney) receives DVM degree, after being one of first African American undergraduates, at Texas A&M.
1971 – Office of Continuing Education formed.
1971 – Women granted unrestricted admission.
1972 – Institute of Comparative Medicine founded.
1973 – Dr. George C. Shelton appointed Dean.
1976 – The VMBS participates in a collaboration that accomplishes the first primate by embryo transfer (baboon).
1980 – The VMBS begins recognizing its “Outstanding Alumni.”
1980 – Texas A&M Medical Sciences Library (MSL) becomes a separate entity.
1981 – Small Animal Teaching Hospital building opens.
1985 – Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital (VMTH) formally established.
1985 – The new MSL facility opens and is connected to the VMBS by an underground tunnel.
1985 – Wildlife and Exotic Animal Center opens.
1987 – Schubot Exotic Bird Health Center founded.
1988 – Dr. John Shadduck appointed Dean.
1990 – Reproductive Services Laboratory expanded.
1991 – The VMBS celebrates its 75th Anniversary.
1993 – Veterinary Research Building and new Large Animal Hospital constructed at a cost of nearly $40 million.
1993 – Stevenson Companion Animal Life-Care Center founded.
1994 – Inaugural Veterinary School Open House held.
1997 – Dr. Robert F. Playter, Jr. appointed as Interim Dean.
1997 – Dr. H. Richard Adams appointed Dean.
1999 – First cloned calf.
2001 – Michael E. Debakey Institute for Comparative Cardiovascular Sciences established.
2001 – First cloned pig and goat.
2002 – Equine Pavilion completed.
2002 – First cloned cat.
2003 – First cloned deer.
2004 – The National Center for Foreign Animal and Zonotic Disease Defense (FAZD) is founded.
2004 – The name of the VMBS is officially changed to the “College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences.”
2005 – First horse cloned in North America born
2005 – The VMBS begins to offer dual DVM/MBA and DVM/PhD programs.
2005 – The Large Animal Hospital becomes a surge hospital, housing special needs human patients, in response to Hurricane Rita hitting the Gulf Coast. The VMBS’s response to the storm paves the way for the eventual establishment of the Texas A&M Veterinary Emergency Team (VET).
2006 – Biomedical Sciences becomes the largest degree-granting undergraduate program at Texas A&M.
2006 – The VMBS celebrates its 90th Anniversary.
2007 – MRI capabilities made are available at VMTH.
2008 – Equine Lameness Arena opens.
2009 – Texas A&M Institute for Preclinical Studies (TIPS) building opens
2009 – The Texas A&M Veterinary Emergency Team (VET) is established. It eventually becomes the largest and most sophisticated veterinary disaster response team in the nation. In addition to providing medical support to canine search-and-rescue teams and disaster response, the team assists local governments in emergency preparedness planning that includes provisions for livestock and companion animals. The VMBS requires fourth-year veterinary students to participate in a two-week disaster clinical rotation taught by VET faculty.
2009 – The VMBS accepts one of the first TVMA Heritage Practice Awards.
2009 – Partnership announced between VMBS and West Texas A&M University to create the Veterinary Education, Research, & Outreach (VERO) Building as part of the “Serving Every Texan Every Day” initiative to create Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Center (TVMC).
2010 – Schubot Center researchers prove that avian bornavirus leads to proventricular dilation disease, a fatal neurological disease in birds.
2011 – The VET deploys for the first time in response to the Bastrop Complex Wildfire.
2011 – Completion of the Diagnostic Imaging and Cancer Treatment Center.
2011 – Texas A&M joins the Global One Health program, introducing the One Health Initiative to create “One Health, One Medicine, One World.”
2012 – Groundbreaking for the Thomas G. Hildebrand, DVM ’56 Equine Complex, home to the Texas A&M Equine Initiative, a collaboration with the College of Agriculture & Life Sciences.
2013 – The VET deploys in response to the fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas.
2013 – The Center for Organ and Cell Biotechnology (CCOB), a collaboration between the Texas Heart Institute (THI) and the VMBS led by Dr. Doris Taylor, director of Regenerative Medicine Research at THI, launches.
2014 – During the Ebola outbreak in Dallas, the VET cares for an affected nurse’s dog and helps create protocols for canines potentially exposed to the virus.
2014 – The VMBS becomes the recipient of the first National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) Center grant at Texas A&M University. The grant provides funding for the Center for Translational Environmental Health Research that is a collaboration among Texas A&M, Baylor College of Medicine, and the University of Houston.
2015 – The Texas A&M University System announces initiative to expand veterinary education, research, and undergraduate outreach into several regions of the state through partnerships between the VMBS and West Texas A&M University (WTAMU), Prairie View A&M University (PVAMU), Texas A&M University-Kingsville, and Tarleton State University, which constitutes the Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Center (TVMC).
2015 – The VET deploys in response to the Memorial Day flooding of the Blanco River in Wimberley and San Marcos, Texas.
2015 – Grand opening of $3.1 million Avian Health Complex, meant to expand the Schubot Center for Avian Health.
2016 – The VMBS, again, receives full accreditation from the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Council on Education (AVMA COE)—with no substantial compliance issues cited.
2016 – A DVM Class Size Task Force, including Texas Veterinary Medical Association (TVMA) representation, is formed by Dean Eleanor M. Green. Using existing data and data-driven projections, the task force recommends that the DVM class size be increased by 30 students.
2016 – The TVMA Board of Directors provides a letter of strong support for the TVMC Strategic Partnership plan and the proposed DVM class size increase.
2016 – The $120 million Veterinary & Biomedical Education Complex (VBEC) is completed, enabling immediate and future class size increases to meet the veterinary medical education needs of Texas far into the future and to provide state-wide reach.
2016 – The 2016 Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) report, “Veterinary Medical Education in Texas: An Update,” is completed. The conclusion is: “In summary, no new college of veterinary medicine is recommended at this time. However, the need to address the pending shortage of large animal veterinarians could be addressed in a variety of ways.”
2016 – The VET deploys to Fort Bend and Brazoria Counties in response to historic flooding along the Brazos River.
2016 – The VMBS celebrates its centennial with a slate of events throughout the year and publishes a special coffee table book, “Celebrating CVM 100 Years 1916–2016: Serving Every Texan Every Day.”
2017 – The VMBS is one of three DVM programs and one of only 24 health profession schools in the U.S. to receive the 2017 Health Professions Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine.
2017 – The VBEC provides new learning opportunities for students who attend the four Texas A&M System universities that are part of the TVMC “Serving Every Texan Every Day” Initiative.
2017 – The DVM class size increases to 142 students.
2017 – The first eight DVM graduates of the VMBS’s revitalized Food Animal Track hit the field—specifically trained for beef cattle and food production medicine.
2017 – A data-driven curriculum renewal is implemented in the fall with the incoming class of 2021. Changes ensure the curriculum continues to include extensive, engaging, didactic instruction, and hands-on learning opportunities.
2017 – The VMBS holds the inaugural Veterinary Job & Externship Fair, in partnership with TVMA.
2017 – The VMBS hosts the first PoreCamp in the U.S., a one-week course based on the Oxford Nanopore Technology (ONT) MinION sequencing system.
2017 – The VMBS hosts the National Student American Veterinary Medical Association (SAVMA) Symposium.
2017 – The VET deploys in response to the tornadoes in Canton, Texas. The team also receives a disaster-relief grant to buy a custom, 25-foot veterinary medical unit from Banfield, the team’s first fully equipped, truck-based unit suited to treat the animals they rescue as well as the canines used by Texas Task Force 1.
2017 – The Texas A&M Superfund Research Center, housed at the VMBS, is established with the support of a five-year, $10 million grant from NIEHS to develop a comprehensive set of tools that can be used by cities, counties, states, the federal government, and other entities to respond to disasters and mitigate the health and environmental consequences of exposure to hazardous mixtures during emergency-related contamination events.
2017 – The VMBS hosts the inaugural Veterinary Innovation Summit (VIS) in partnership with the North American Veterinary Community (NAVC).
2017 – The VET provides the largest and most complex veterinary medical emergency response effort to date during Hurricane Harvey, deploying to 10 Texas jurisdictions spread across approximately 375 miles and impacting approximately 3,000 animals.
2017 – Grand opening of the new, $53 million Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory (TVMDL)
2018 – The VMBS receives the 2018 Health Professions Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine—for a second straight year. It’s one of only 35 health profession schools in the U.S. to be honored.
2018 – The VMBS hosts the National Veterinary Scholars Symposium (NVSS), titled “Veterinary Scientists in Global Health Research,” and the National Colloquium for Combined DVM/PhD Biomedical Scientists.
2018 – The VMBS hosts the second annual VIS in partnership with NAVC.
2018 – Groundbreaking for $22.8 million Veterinary Education, Research, & Outreach (VERO) Building at West Texas A&M University in Canyon, Texas, intended to facilitate collaborative, multidisciplinary research by creating an “information superhighway” across Texas.
2018–19 – The VET deploys for the first time out-of-state to assist with recovery efforts in Butte County, California, in the aftermath of the Camp Fire.
2019 – The VET celebrates its 10th Anniversary.
2019 – The VMBS receives 2019 Health Professions Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine for the third time, this time with the Diversity Champion Distinction.
2019 – The VMBS hosts the third annual VIS in partnership with NAVC
2019 – The $86 million Global Health Research Complex is completed
2019 – Texas A&M and the University of Washington launch historic Dog Aging Project
2020 – VMTH is recertified as a level II emergency and critical care facility by the Veterinary Emergency & Critical Care Society (VECCS).
2020 – The COVID-19 pandemic radically changes the course of everyday life with Texas A&M University taking all classes completely online after Spring Break through the Summer sessions. Unprecedented precautions are taken to allow for a hybrid of online and face-to-face teaching and learning for the Fall semester.
2020 – Dr. Eleanor M. Green retires from the Texas A&M VMBS.
2020 – Dr. John August is named Dean of the Texas A&M VMBS.
2022 – The College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences joins six other Texas A&M University colleges that became designated as schools beginning Sept. 1, 2022. The change to School of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (VMBS) reflects recommendations approved by President M. Katherine Banks in the Path Forward, Banks’ strategic plan that provides guidance for carrying out the university’s mission and vision.
2022 – The biomedical sciences undergraduate program leaves the VMBS to join the newly formed College of Arts and Sciences, which is being formed by the merging of the colleges of Geosciences, Science, and Liberal Arts.