Looking back on 80 years of service to people and animals
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Looking back on 80 years of service to people and animals

As UQ’s School of Veterinary Science celebrates its 80th anniversary, Head of School Professor Glen Coleman reflects on how far the School has come from humble beginnings in 1936, with a first-year intake of seven students at a Yeerongpilly site. In 1961, 25 years after its establishment, the Veterinary School moved from Yeerongpilly to the main UQ campus at St Lucia. A third major move occurred in 2010 when the School relocated to superb facilities at the UQ Gatton Campus. The School now boasts a vibrant community of 601 undergraduate and 76 postgraduate students and 456 staff.

We’ve come a long way since our first dean, Bert Seddon (or H.R. Seddon as most of us recognise him), started the UQ Vet program in a converted stable at Yeerongpilly.   Right from the beginning, UQ decided it would run a five-year program with a strong focus on animal husbandry and preventive medicine.   I think we’ve stuck to that core mission fairly well in the intervening 80 years, and have been well placed as preventive medicine has come back into vogue.

Considering the critical role played by H.R. Seddon in our history, it is fitting that his grand-daughter Jenny is currently our Deputy Head of School.

We have achieved much over the past 80 years, and these achievements are being boosted by the tremendous investment in facilities and resources associated with the 2010 relocation to Gatton.   We have a new cadre of up-and-coming veterinarians and scientists, and the commitment of our clinical staff has seen caseload growth in our new Gatton hospital exceed all expectations.

The school has been fortunate in the encouragement and support we have received from alumni and other professional colleagues – through both the good and the tougher times.   As we look confidently to the future, we are also mindful that our work is built on the foundations laid by the legendary figures of our past.

Our 80th anniversary year recognises the hard work and dedication of generations of people with a common love of animals, their health and welfare, and a desire to help the communities and environments in which they live.

The School will celebrate its birthday with events for graduates and the local community, including reunions, professional education seminars, prize ceremonies and public lectures.

Alumni wishing to attend events can view the upcoming events and register their interest to receive invitations to upcoming events and celebrations.

The School of Veterinary Science has produced  4000 graduates working   in professional practices, research, government, biosecurity, industry and even television.

Distinguished alumni creating change around the world include:

  • Nobel Laureate and former Australian of the Year Professor Peter Doherty, AC
  • Founder of Vets Beyond Borders Dr Catherine Schuetze
  • Animal advocate Dr Peter Thornber, who developed the Australian Animal Welfare Strategy
  • Dr Allison Crook, who is the first woman appointed chief veterinary officer and general manager for Animal Biosecurity and Welfare Queensland
  • Dr Glen Richards, the founding Managing Director of Green Cross Veterinary surgeries, who established China’s first western veterinary practice in 2001. Dr Richards is now a panellist on Network Ten’s Shark Tank, offering assistance to budding business entrepreneurs.

The five-year UQ Bachelor of Veterinary Science degree is globally accredited by the three major accrediting bodies, is ranked number 29 in the world in the 2016 QS world subject ranking, and provides students with world-class teaching and in-depth specialist expertise.

The School is a leader nationally and internationally in the emerging profession of Veterinary Technology, offering a three-year Bachelor of Veterinary Technology degree which combines theory, practical instruction and hands-on experience.

With more than $140 million invested in purpose-built teaching and research facilities at UQ’s Gatton campus within the past few years, students and staff can access an integrated suite of animal production, health and welfare teaching and research activities set on 1000 hectares of rural land.

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The Veterinary School relocated to The University of Queensland’s Gatton campus in 2010

Clinical facilities provide specialist referral services for veterinarians and general services for owners of companion animals, horses, farm stock and exotic pets and for native fauna.

There is an on-site Veterinary Medical Centre at Gatton, and students undertake  rural practice and a diversity of experiences at  Dayboro, north of Brisbane.

The School produces world-class research that has had a significant impact on animal and pharmaceutical industries, veterinary clinical medicine, wildlife health and ecology, and the health and livelihoods of people in developing countries.

An example of the pioneering innovation of the School is a Newcastle disease vaccine developed by researchers.

This has had a substantial impact in more than 50 countries by preventing the devastating impacts of Newcastle disease on village chickens, food security and  the rural poor. The vaccine does not need to be refrigerated, so villagers do not need electricity to store it safely.

The School’s research spans across land and sea – from work in our  Centre for Animal Welfare and Ethics, which is widely used by advocacy groups, to the Cetacean Ecology and Acoustics Laboratory, which conducts the official humpback whale population count used by the Australian government and the International Whaling Commission.

The School is seeking support for future generations of veterinary scientists and veterinary technologists through philanthropic scholarships and prizes. Contact Julia Keith on j.keith2@uq.edu.au or +61 (7) 3365 3357 to discuss opportunities to provide support.

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