The resounding success of the Think and Do the Extraordinary Campaign solidifies NC State University’s position as a world leader in veterinary medicine.
A final total of $231,140,770 in donor support eclipses the original $175 million goal by 132%, propelling the NC State College of Veterinary Medicine into a new era of groundbreaking research, advanced clinical care and training new generations of veterinary professionals.
“We are so incredibly grateful for the generosity of our alumni, friends and supporters,” says Kate Meurs, interim CVM dean. “This level of support will help us advance our educational, clinical and research programs in ways that we could only have previously imagined but now can put into action. Words can not properly express our gratitude for the support of the NC State CVM.”
The college’s fundraising effort was part of the university-wide Think and Do the Extraordinary Campaign, publicly launched in 2016 with a $1.6 billion goal.
The final campaign total of $2.1 billion was made possible by more than 133,000 individual donors from all 100 North Carolina counties, all 50 states and 73 countries when the campaign concluded at the end of 2021. Just 12 other public universities in the United States have ever closed fundraising campaigns at $2 billion or higher.
“We’re overwhelmed and grateful for the fact that we have so many donors and supporters out there who believe in what we do as a college to support animal well-being and animal welfare and to move veterinary medicine forward,” says Dianne Dunning, CVM associate dean of advancement. “We would not be who we are and where we are going without your support.”
During the campaign, donors contributed about $22.5 million to fund scholarships that benefited more than 600 veterinary students. That allowed the CVM to triple its scholarship support from where it was at the start of the campaign.
Even though NC State is one of the most affordable colleges of veterinary medicine in the country, the financial burden on students is still significant. Alleviating that source of pressure with scholarships allows them to focus on the demanding curriculum that will prepare them to be outstanding professionals after graduation.
In 2016 the creation of the Michele M. and Ross M. Annable Scholarship Endowment, a need-based program that covers up to half the cost of tuition and fees, was the result of a generous $5 million donation from the Annables matched by another $5 million from the R.B. Terry Charitable Foundation. This momentous investment in the education of future veterinarians had a profound impact on assistance available to CVM students.
“I still remember to this day when I got the email that said I got the Annable Scholarship,” says the class of 2023’s Alexis Roach. “I literally stepped out of class when I was an undergrad and I just cried because I had never gotten a scholarship in that amount. Being a student is already hard enough, but having a scholarship helps a lot because now you have to worry less about the finances.”
Endowed chairs and distinguished professorships play a critical role in retaining top faculty and researchers at the CVM and throughout the university.
In 2017 the Dr. Kady M. Gjessing and Rahna M. Davidson Distinguished Chair in Gerontology was established at the CVM. It is the largest endowed chair in the history of the entire university, awarded to Natasha Olby, a celebrated CVM professor of neurology and neurosurgery.
It was the result of a gift from Gjessing, a 1994 CVM alumna, to honor Davidson, her mother, an animal lover who once served on the CVM’s North Carolina Veterinary Medical Foundation Board. The endowment creates the first veterinary gerontology program at any veterinary college in the country.
It is the largest donation to the CVM from an alumnus — nearly $3.7 million, with $1.5 million in cash and a $1.5 million match from the R.B. Terry Charitable Foundation.
During the course of the campaign donations from generous supporters enabled the establishment of seven new distinguished professorships, including a second distinguished chair, the Andy Quattlebaum Distinguished Chair in Infectious Disease Research. The endowment honors the memory of Quattlebaum, a 22-year-old student at Clemson University who passed away unexpectedly in 2019.
His parents, Don and Hayden Quattlebaum, donated $500,000, which combined with other funding sources to create the position. The recipient of the chair, Adam Birkenheuer, is a CVM professor of internal medicine and an internationally recognized expert on vector-borne infections of dogs and cats, most commonly spread by fleas, ticks and lice. That includes diseases caused by the Bartonella bacterium and babesiosis, the latter a previously unrecognized small animal disease discovered in canines by Birkenheuer and his research team.
New Life-Saving Equipment
Another critical area benefitting from the campaign’s success is the acquisition of cutting-edge, life-saving equipment at the NC State Veterinary Hospital.
Donor support played a significant role in acquiring a new, state-of-the-art MRI machine, offering the clearest images yet to aid in treating everything from neurological conditions to cancer. MRI is the gold standard in diagnostic medical care. It provides drastically higher quality images for clinicians creating treatment plans for cats and dogs with a range of neurological conditions, horses with orthopedic injuries and much more.
The veterinary hospital handles more than 35,000 patients a year, and its advanced technology, along with its team of skilled medical specialists, are saving and prolonging lives every day.
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Greater diversity, equity and inclusion are critical to the CVM and an important part of its core values.
Dedicated scholarships like the new Pet Desk Scholarship for Equity in Veterinary Medicine, designed to support groups historically underrepresented in the veterinary field. The PetDesk scholarship is one of several at the college to support underrepresented minority veterinary students, including the Tracy Hanner DVM Scholarship Endowment, the University of North Carolina Veterinary Education Access program, the Dr. Alfreda Johnson Webb Endowed Scholarship and the Old Main Native American Indian Veterinarian Scholarship Endowment.
Allen Cannedy, CVM director of diversity and multicultural affairs, credits those donors whose support is opening doors for underrepresented students with making a significant difference. “Their investment in our future will not only change the lives of the recipients of their scholarships but will surely help diversify our profession,” he says.
More Groundbreaking Research
Veterinary medicine also plays an important role in medical research that impacts both animal and human health.
During the course of the campaign, more than $12 million was donated to support significant laboratory research. In one example, in 2019 renowned researcher Ke Cheng was named the Randall B. Terry, Jr. Distinguished Professor in Regenerative Medicine for his groundbreaking stem cell research that has led to promising new ways to repair damaged hearts and lungs.
The endowed professorship is the result of a $1 million donation from the R.B. Terry Charitable Foundation, along with $500,000 from the college’s Distinguished Professors Endowment Trust Fund. Cheng has led studies pinpointing innovative ways to deliver stem cells to stimulate heart and lung tissue growth, technology that is also applicable to human health.
In January 2021, the leader of the CVM’s groundbreaking research efforts was recognized for her own advanced research work. Meurs, then senior associate dean for research and graduate studies, was named the Randall B. Terry, Jr. Distinguished Professor in Comparative Medicine. Meurs became acting dean of the college with the recent departure of Paul Lunn.
Her research broadens understanding of genetic disease in companion animals, and the information it reveals is often applied to human disease, particularly in the field of cardiac disease genetics. Her research has led to refined treatment approaches for conditions ranging from feline cardiomyopathy to long QT Syndrome, a heart rhythm disorder.
Of course, advanced facilities play a crucial role in making the college’s leading-edge work possible, and donations are instrumental in facilitating continuous improvement in this vital area. The ground has just been broken for the construction of a $5.5 million upgrade to the dairy barn on the grounds of the CVM’s iconic Teaching Animal Unit.
The project will enable students to learn the latest in food safety and security practices, as well as a modern approach to animal welfare. In December 2019, the Reedy Creek Equine Farm, a state-of-the-art home for horse reproductive services, opened as part of increased investment in advanced equine care at NC State.
Increased Investment in the Future
Another highlight of the campaign in 2016 is a major planned gift that will add an important element to the hospital’s equine services. The Tiffany and Randy Ramsey Equine Sports Medicine Program, totaling $12.6 million, will provide operational support for CVM’s unique equine program, which treats performance-related diseases in Olympic, dressage and pleasure-riding horses. The gift will also endow professorships, fund equipment purchases and assist in the construction of new and renovated facilities.
Susan Ward is a longtime supporter of the college, and a member and former president of the North Carolina Veterinary Medical Foundation. She expresses the shared view of everyone at the CVM when talking about those who gave during the campaign. “People who know me know that I’m a big fan of the drop-in-the-bucket theory,” she says. “And I believe that everybody can help. Everybody makes an impact. And every gift, no matter how small or how large, makes a difference.”
~Steve Volstad/NC State Veterinary Medicine