Penn Vet Facts & Terms

Unique History


  • Founded in 1884, Penn Vet is the 2nd oldest of 28 U.S. vet schools (in 26 states; Iowa State is older).
  • Penn Vet awards the only Veterinariae Medicinae Doctoris (VMD) in the U.S. (other schools award the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, D.V.M.).
  • Proposed by Benjamin Rush in 1807, and founded by Josiah Lippincott’s gift of $10,000, Penn Vet was unusual from its beginning:
      • First Dean, Rush Shippen Huidekoper (descendant of Benjamin Rush), was an M.D. from Penn Medicine, who trained in Lyons to become a veterinarian
      • Founded to study animal biology and disease, in order to help both animals and humans—the “One Medicine” concept
      • Committed to a three-part mission of teaching, healing, and service
      • Private (other vet schools exist at land grant universities)
  • In 1952, the New Bolton Center campus was acquired to provide students with necessary continued exposure to large animals (farm animals and horses).  This campus includes historic residential and farm buildings as well as facilities, research, and training programs on nearly 700 acres.  As a result, Penn Vet is the only U.S. vet school in a major metropolitan area with a secondary, rural campus location.
  • With entering classes of 125 students, over 200 faculty, over 600 staff, and an ~$82.6M unrestricted operating budget, Penn Vet is one of the largest U.S. veterinary schools.

Measures of Distinction

  • Admissions are highly competitive (1,200 applications for 125 slots), as are the School’s internship and residency programs.
  • The School leads the profession in NIH-supported research and in quality Ph.D. training of veterinarians (the V.M.D.-Ph.D. program is the oldest, largest, and only consistently NIH-supported joint degree program).
  • Distinguished faculty include National Medal of Science winner and stem cell pioneer Ralph Brinster, V.M.D., Ph.D.
  • Our two hospitals are frequently cited as the best in their class, and both offer 24-hour emergency services:
      • Ryan Hospital for small animals sees ~30,000 cases annually and features the only minimally invasive surgery suite in a veterinary teaching hospital.
      • Widener Hospital for large animals sees ~6,000 cases annually and features the Moran Critical Care Center; Field Service sees more than 19,000 cases annually.
  • We are uniquely positioned to conduct high-quality clinical trials by using spontaneous models of disease in client-owned pets through the Veterinary Clinical Investigations Center (VCIC).
  • Integration with Penn is vital and cross-school collaborations include:
      • PIK (Penn Integrates Knowledge) Professor John Gearhart, Ph.D.
      • Joint degrees—V.M.D.-Ph.D., V.M.D.-M.B.A.
      • Extensive research collaborations
      • Penn Vet-Wharton Executive Veterinary Leadership program

Unique Relationship to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

  • Governor Corbett’s 2012 budget included a $28 million appropriation for Penn Vet from the state’s general operating budget.
  • PA Capital funding to date (since 1884): $18M for Hill Pavilion; $14.3M for New Bolton Center facilities related to infectious disease in 2006; $5M for New Bolton Center Infrastructure in 2009.
  • Penn Vet’s annual operating budget is comprised of the Commonwealth appropriation; fees for clinical and diagnostic services; grants from federal, state and private sources; tuition; and endowment and gift spending.
  • Penn Vet preserves and protects the safety of the food supply and the health of the public, as part of the Pennsylvania Animal Health and Diagnostic Laboratory System (PADLS).
  • Penn Vet provides admissions preference and reduced tuition for PA residents.
  • Ex-officio agricultural and other relevant stakeholders are members of Penn Vet’s Overseers (e.g. Secretaries of Agriculture and Health, Chairs of Agriculture Committees, PVMA President).