By ANGIE CARNATHAN
The Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine celebrates the 30th anniversary of the graduation of its inaugural class this weekend with a two-day Pegasus Gala starting Friday at 1:30 p.m..
The first CVM class graduated with 22 students in 1981.
“It was a landmark decision to bring a veterinary college to Mississippi,” Julie Burt, CVM clinical services coordinator and gala organizer, said. “This gala will celebrate the original class and all our faculty and staff who have made each graduating class possible through the years.”
Kent Hoblet, MSU College of Veterinary Medicine dean, said that first group of graduates, including its faculty and the founding dean, set the tone for the CVM for decades to come.
“For the vet school, there can only ever be one first graduating class,” Hoblet said. “There’s only 28 colleges of veterinary medicine in the U.S., so it’s pretty special to be even one of those schools, but of course we think our program is pretty special on its own. The contributions our graduates have made to their communities, to science, to government and to the military are so great, and our first graduating class is a great example of that.”
Pegasus Gala events begin Friday with the Human-Animal Bond Lecture Series sponsored by Nestle Purina. Jack Hanna will present his show of exotic animals to a group of Starkville-area school children. Hanna is the director emeritus of the Columbus (Ohio) Zoo and Aquarium and host of “Jack Hanna’s Into the Wild.” Hanna’s appearance has been made possible by Nutramax Laboratories, which was founded in 1992 by Dr. Robert Henderson of Edgewood, Md. Today, the company is led by his son, company president and CEO Dr. Todd Henderson of the MSU-CVM class of 1992. Nutramax researches, develops and markets high-quality health supplements for humans, animals and plants.
Linda Jack, who teaches 10-12th grades of Agriscience and Agriculture and Natural Resources at Millsaps Career and Technology Center, said she has an animal science and veterinary technician background and her students are working on an extensive unit of animal science in preparation for the event.
“I believe it’s important for students to learn wildlife habits so that we may preserve their ecosystems and understand the natural balance that occurs,” Jack said.
Lisa Vaughn is the fourth grade science teacher at Starkville Academy and will also be taking students to the event. She said the program will be a great way to reward the students for all of their hard work in the classroom.
“We have just finished learning about animals and their needs,” Vaughn said. “Each student chose an animal to do a research report on and then looked for information such as how the animal meets its needs, where it lives, what it eats and interesting facts about the animal. They are all hoping to possibly see the animal they researched at Jack Hanna’s show.”
After Hanna’s show Friday there will be an autograph signing in the CVM foyer from 3-4 p.m.
A VIP reception takes place from 5:30-6:30 p.m. reuniting the founding faculty, all but one of the former CVM deans, the members of the first graduating class, their guests and other well-known, current and former MSU and CVM.
Later Friday evening, the Hunter Henry Center will host a sold-out dinner to celebrate the Pegasus Gala. Jack Hanna will again entertain with his show of interesting and rare animals for guests.
At 8 a.m. Saturday, plans will be unveiled at the CVM for a garden dedicated to the inaugural class of 1981. Guided tours of the CVM will be available for the public at this time. The group will later be introduced on the field before the start of the MSU vs. South Carolina football game. Kickoff for the game is scheduled for 11:21 a.m.
Prior to and following the MSU football game, the CVM will host a tailgate for anyone who would like to attend. The tent will be located directly across from the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity house.
According to a release, MSU’s veterinary college has about 11 applicants for every opening in each veterinary class. While many of these students are from Mississippi, many more are out-of-state applicants. In its 34 years of existence, Burt said CVM has made a name for itself as a quality college with a nurturing learning environment.
“Our curriculum is a two-plus-two, which means our students spend two years in an academic setting supported by clinical laboratories, followed by two years of hands-on experience in the clinics and on chosen externships,” Burt said. “Many schools offer three years of classroom work and just one year in clinical rotations. MSU also creates a family environment through personnel who provide a good support system for our students.”
For more information about the Pegasus Gala, call Julie Burt at (662) 325-7016.