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The Battalion

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The Battalion

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Two former students grant $20 million to support new Small Animal Hospital

The+current+Texas+A%26amp%3BM+University+Small+Animal+Hospital+is+set+to+be+replaced+by+a+new+Small+Animal+Teaching+%26amp%3B+Research+Hospital+with+the+support+of+lead+donors+Linda+and+Dennis+Clark+68.
Photo by Kyle Heise

The current Texas A&M University Small Animal Hospital is set to be replaced by a new Small Animal Teaching & Research Hospital with the support of lead donors Linda and Dennis Clark ’68.

Dennis and Linda Clark, Class of 1971 and 1968, respectively, gifted $20 million to benefit the new Small Animal Teaching and Research Hospital. 

The current Small Animal Hospital will be replaced with a  new facility to provide the most efficient equipment updates and an overall change in construction to accommodate more space. The construction timeline has not been released, and the final layout is still in progress. The new hospital will provide veterinary students with educational workspaces and the most advanced laboratories for animal health and research.

Dennis said the dated facility does not meet the current needs of either the small animal care or research that a world-class veterinary and research hospital requires. 

“This gift was a big decision for us,” Dennis said. “It ultimately came from us asking ourselves, ‘How can we help improve the small animal care that is currently going on at our veterinary school?’ The answer was easy … help provide the world-class medical facility that [A&M] needs and deserves.”

The Carl B. King Dean of Veterinary Medicine at A&M Dr. John R. August said the Small Animal Hospital opened in 1981 with many of the improvements needed to accommodate veterinary medicine practitioners and a high increase of caseloads.

“It was designed to provide more space but not necessarily designed for the future,” August said. “[The] building wasn’t designed with flexibility in mind, and no one could have anticipated the rapid growth that veterinary medicine — and our [doctor of veterinary medicine] program — would experience over the course of the next 40 years.”

The small animal patient caseload is more than six times higher today than it was in 1981; at least twice as many hospital services are offering clinical trials now compared to 10 years ago, August said. 

“Our hospital now houses 19 clinical services, whereas in 1981, there were only two,” August said. “In addition, our DVM class size has grown to 180 students, all of whom complete a full year of clinical rotations in our Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital. With the increase in faculty and staff to support teaching and patient care, our hospital is now bursting at the seams.”

Linda said the gift was important to both her and her husband because of how important their small animals are to them. 

“This university has an extraordinary veterinary school with talented people doing exciting research that will not only improve animal care, but may also impact humans down the road,” Linda said. 

The fundamental goal is to provide exemplary companion animal primary care education for veterinary students, August said. 

“We aspire to become a research-intensive [veterinary] care center that is recognized as the best in the world, a place people come to because it is cutting-edge and because of the high level of compassionate care [that is provided],” August said.

Additionally, there are other funds that have been gifted to benefit the new and improved small animal hospital. 

“The project has received funding from the Texas Legislature and Texas’ Permanent University Fund,” according to Texas A&M Today

President and CEO of the Texas A&M Foundation, Tyson Voelkel, Class of 1998, said the facility has been a university goal for some time. 

“It needed investment from outstanding former students and philanthropic partners like the Clarks, who were willing to make this monumental gift and build a brighter future for the university,” Voelkel said. “They have seen what this school and its people are capable of, and they know that Aggies will fully utilize this new teaching hospital to push their field forward.”

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