Cornell University Was an Early Leader in Training Black Veterinarians

Jennifer K. Morrissey, who worked as a research assistant to Donald F. Smith, dean emeritus of the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, has completed an investigation determining the early black graduates of the college. She found that between 1910 and 1920, seven African Americans earned a doctorate in veterinary medicine from Cornell.

Kirksey Curd, a black man from Kentucky, was the first African-American graduate of the school. Curd later became a physician. Two of the early black graduates were brothers, Ray Potter Waller and Owen Waller Jr. Both opened private practices in New York City.

Undoubtedly the most famous black graduate of the college is Frederick Douglass Patterson, who earned his DVM at Cornell in 1932. He went on to become president of what is now Tuskegee University, where he started the Tuskegee College of Veterinary Medicine in 1944. At the time, there were only five black veterinarians in the southern states. It is estimated that today 70 percent of all African-American veterinarians received their training at Tuskegee.