Giving comes in all forms, shapes and sizes.
Dr. William Klemm, a senior professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences’ (CVM) Veterinary Integrative Biosciences (VIBS) department, has given his time and talents to thousands of students over the years.
And now, his way of giving comes in the form of a scholarship.
Through his gift, Klemm will provide a salary for veterinary students who use their summers to do research under the supervision of a faculty mentor.
“My career in biomedical research has been very fulfilling, but I did not realize this would be the case as a student because I had so little exposure to research,” he said. “Through this scholarship, I want to help other veterinary students have a research experience so they can discover early on if research is something they, too, might become passionate about.”
William Klemm began his education at the University of Tennessee, and after receiving early admission to veterinary school, earned his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree at Auburn University, of which he is now a distinguished alumnus.
But it wasn’t until he became the veterinarian at the Air Force base at which he was stationed and was named head of the human hospital’s diagnostic laboratory that he was introduced to research through journals he read in the hospital’s library.
“I was somewhat surprised that my veterinary education prepared me to understand what I was reading,” he said. “In the process, I became interested in research and discovered I had a capacity for it, so I decided to go to graduate school. Veterinary school prepared me for that, too.”
At the University of Notre Dame, Klemm received his Ph.D. in biology and then began his career in academia. After an assistant professorship at Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine, he came to the Texas A&M University Department of Biology in 1966, where he taught introductory biology and created two upper-level physiology courses before moving to the VIBS department as a professor of neuroscience.
While he finds teaching fulfilling, research, he said, “is my first love.”
“I went on to the veterinary school at Auburn blind to the world of research. I wasn’t exposed much to research at Auburn either. So, I lost a few years before I discovered what my calling was,” Klemm said. “I created the scholarship, and a similar one at Auburn, so that at least a few students might engage the world of research early on in their education and perhaps discover a calling they might otherwise miss. At the two institutions, around 15 students have thus far participated.”
He retired from Texas A&M 17 years ago but has continued to work part-time through the CVM’s PEER program and teaching various neuroscience courses. He currently teaches 400-level courses, including the online course “Core Ideas in Neuroscience” (VIBS 407) and “Neuroscience and Religion” (VIBS 408).
“My goal in teaching is to help students grow in competence and confidence,” Klemm said. “When that happens, I feel as if I have done my job.”
He also continues to mentor his young students, especially those in the “Neuroscience and Religion” course.
“I know this is an unorthodox subject, but it has major impact on students, and on me, too,” he said. “I have explained all that in a recently published paper aimed at encouraging other universities to create such a course.”
Aside from teaching and research, Klemm said he hopes investing in students will make a difference in their lives. He also hopes that other faculty members will follow in his footsteps by endowing a scholarship of their own.
“You can’t take it with you,” he said. “Donated money can position a student for a fulfilling career that they might otherwise miss. Even if they don’t become a scientist, they get a little spending money which they surely need to finish college. What is a better use of your dime than that?”