The nation’s newest College of Veterinary Medicine opens in August

2003 at Western University of Health Sciences in Pomona, California.

This is the first college of veterinary medicine to open in Southern

California and the first in the country in over 20 years. The new

college has a unique mission as it begins to train veterinarians to fill

the growing need for pet and animal care professionals in California.

”Our college will be guided by the same spirit of compassionate

caring for patients and families that has been the hallmark of our

university,” said Philip Pumerantz, president of Western University. He

adds, ”We did the research, found an unmet need for more veterinarians,

and in the entrepreneurial spirit that has been part of the foundation of

this university, we found the right people to help make this college a


Dr. Shirley D. Johnston is the founding dean of the college and

the only woman dean of a veterinary college in the nation. Johnston

said, ”Our college is founded on commitments to student-centered

learning, a reverence-for-life philosophy, and strategic partnerships and


Grand opening festivities begin on Saturday, August 9 with a

reception and dinner celebration honoring the major donors who have

contributed to make the new college and its new campus building

possible. Dignitaries in veterinary education from California, the

nation and around the world will be in attendance.

The First Class

Classes will begin on Monday, August 11 with 86 students comprising

the charter class. Most of the class members are California residents,

but the balance come from seven other states.

Mirroring the national trend in student demographics, women

outnumber men in the class. Diversity is one of the many goals Western

University has in mind while serving one of the most diverse regions in

the world, and the college is proud to have admitted 10 Latino students.

Reverence for Life

The goal of the ”Reverence for Life” founding philosophy is to

engender compassion and respect for all living things throughout the

veterinary medical education experience. This will occur through:

– respectful interpersonal and interspecies interactions;

– the fact that animals will not be harmed in this curriculum; and

– the requirement that students master veterinary medical

principles and clinical skills using models before applying those skills

to living animals.

Groundbreaking and Support

University officials and leaders from the American Veterinary

Medical Association and the California Veterinary Medical Association

joined together to break ground in March 2002 to provide the College of

Veterinary Medicine with a new teaching facility designed to meet the

needs of the problem-based learning curriculum. The building has been

completed and is now occupied by the faculty and staff.

Major donors have provided much of the funding to help found the

college. Maddie’s Fund provided a grant of $1.25 million over five years

in support of the development of a new Maddie’s Shelter Medicine

Program. University Board Member Wen Chang and his wife Mei Lien Chang

pledged $500,000 to the new college. Hill’s Pet Nutrition and Banfield

the Pet Hospital have also provided leadership gifts, to be publicized

soon. The Leonard X. Bosack and Bette M. Kruger Foundation has provided

funding for the Veterinary Ambulatory Community Service, which is part of

the Clinical Skills curriculum.


The College’s Willed deceased Animals for Veterinary Education (WAVE)

program gives pet and animal owners the opportunity to donate their

deceased animals to veterinary education at the university. The WAVE

program is the soul source of animal specimens used in the college’s

anatomy, surgery, and clinical skills courses. The exact use of the

donations is dependent on the donor’s wishes, the inherent value of the

animal and the respective legal restrictions.

All donations to the WAVE program must have died or been euthanized

due to serious illness or injury. Animals without owners that are

euthanized to combat over-population issues are not accepted. At

present, the WAVE program is in need of donations from wildlife species.


In April 2003, the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Council

on Education (COE) granted the Western University College of Veterinary

Medicine provisional accreditation status. This status may be maintained

for a period of up to five years, by which time full accreditation must

be achieved. The COE maintains oversight of program quality by reviewing

semiannual reports on compliance with accreditation standards, and by

conducting site visits, which will be scheduled at Western University in

the fall of 2004 and the spring of 2007.