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5.05.05 Veterinary School Celebrates a New Name

In 1978, the notion of a Tufts veterinary school was an ambitious blueprint, viewed by many as an idea that would never work. But within remarkably short time, even the toughest skeptics were impressed. On the sprawling, 580-acre Grafton campus, hospitals and barns were built and faculty recruited, students soon vied for admissions, and groundbreaking research raised veterinary science to a new potential.

Now the school has achieved another milestone and one that gives it a secure future. On May 5, the veterinary school officially took a new name, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, in recognition of the generosity of Cummings Foundation, Inc., and its chief benefactors, William S. and Joyce M. Cummings. It is the first veterinary school in the nation to be named for a donor.

Members of the Tufts community, representatives from Cummings Foundation, and local officials gathered for the historic event in a celebration brimming with praise for the school and its champions. Its most recent and most generous advocate stepped forward last summer, when Cummings Foundation pledged to invest $50 million in the school, one of the largest commitments ever made to a veterinary school in the United States or to a Massachusetts college or university.

In his remarks at the ceremony, President Lawrence S. Bacow focused on the close connection forged between the veterinary school and the Cummings family. “Our veterinary school now proudly bears a name synonymous with visionary leadership in business, education, and philanthropy,” he said. “We are enormously grateful to Cummings Foundation and to Bill and Joyce Cummings for their confidence in the faculty, staff, and students who are dedicated to the humane treatment of animals, the advancement of new knowledge, and excellence in higher education.”

William S. Cummings, president of Cummings Foundation, graduated from Tufts in 1958. He has long been a valued contributor to his alma mater through his service as an overseer of Tufts Medical School, as a trustee of the university, and through the endowment of the Cummings Family Chair in Entrepreneurship and Business Economics.

“I am very proud of our close association with Tufts University, and, in particular, the newly renamed Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine,” he said. “The Cummings School’s role in fighting human communicable diseases, as well as those in animals, and in combating world famine cannot be overstated. It is also the only source of new veterinarians in New England, which is extremely important to the economy of the entire region.”

During the ceremony, Dean Phil Kosch recognized the work of Dr. Thomas Murnane, who as Senior Vice President at Tufts for decades worked side-by-side with Presidents Jean Mayer and John DiBiaggio “to give this school a very strong start.”

“Today we celebrate a new name and new potential,” he said. “In our first quarter century, Tufts University’s School of Veterinary Medicine became widely recognized as an entrepreneurial school, charting future directions for the veterinary profession. As the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, we intend to maintain that leadership role. ‘Cummings’ will be synonymous with innovation and excellence in veterinary education, service, and research.”