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The Gentle Doctor Is In

ISU’s veterinary teaching hospitals
receive a $120 million makeover

Story by Jim Duncan, photography by Paul Gates

After four decades in the academic wilderness, The Gentle Doctor has returned to his hospital.

During his wanderings, Christian Petersen’s statue became an icon of veterinary medicine, much like blindfolded Lady Justice is of the law.

Like all prodigal sons, he discovered that much had changed while he was away.

Petersen’s famous terra-cotta work was created by the sculptor-in-residence on the Iowa State University campus in the late 1930s — some say in commemoration of Charles H. Stange, then dean of the Veterinary College.





The Gentle Doctor has returned to greet patients at the College of Veterinary Medicine’s expanded state-of-the-art facility.



(Read more about The Gentle Doctor)

Intensive Care

This is not the first transformation of the college and its hospitals since ISU opened the nation’s first, and the world’s second, public veterinary school in 1879.

Stange himself revolutionized what would become the Veterinary College (it was merely a division of the College of Agriculture in his time) after becoming its dean in 1909 at the age of 28. He emphasized science and rapidly emerging technologies, such as radiation therapy, that applied to both human and veterinary medicine.

His educational philosophy attracted Petersen, who also affirmed symbiotic relations between humans and animals in his work. It also impressed the Iowa legislature, which began appropriating money for a set of buildings that became the Veterinary Quadrangle in 1912.

By the 1950s, haylofts and barn stalls there were being converted into offices as the college rapidly expanded. A 13-year, $25 million project built an entire new campus for the college and its hospitals, which opened in 1976.

When the final phase is complete this spring, the latest makeover (by Invision Architects of Waterloo-Des Moines) will have added 130,000 square feet that houses a new Food Animal & Camelid Hospital for large animals (including cattle, sheep, goats, swine, and llamas).

It’s already added a 17,000-square-foot addition to the small animal hospital, revised existing buildings to accommodate a vastly expanded pharmacy, and made bio-safety upgrades to a state-of-the-art diagnostic laboratory.

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