Friday, April 15, 2022
“Is this a dream?” asked Purdue Veterinary Medicine Dean Willie Reed as he welcomed a standing room only crowd to the dedication ceremony for the brand new David and Bonnie Brunner Purdue Veterinary Medical Hospital Complex. It was a fitting question, given the years of dreaming and planning that preceded the dedication program Friday, April 8, in the breezeway of the David and Bonnie Brunner Equine Hospital that is one of the components of the new complex.
The $108 million project encompasses 162,500 square feet on a 13 acre site due east of Lynn Hall, which is the original home of the Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine. Named in honor of Dr. David Brunner, a 1979 DVM graduate of the college, and his wife, Bonnie, who gave the lead $10 million gift for the project, the complex replaces the existing Large Animal Hospital and expands the current small animal facilities in Lynn Hall.
Dean Reed, a veterinarian who earned his PhD in pathology at Purdue in 1982 and then served on the faculty at Purdue and Michigan State University, said he started working on plans for the new facilities when he was appointed to the veterinary college deanship at Purdue effective in 2007. “My return to Purdue began what proved to be a long and arduous process that has culminated in these structures that we see today,” Dean Reed said. “Though the process was at times wearisome and frustrating, to everyone’s credit, both in our Purdue Veterinary Medicine family and within the Purdue administration, we never lost sight of the dream. We proved our resiliency and persistence in pursuing our next giant leap.”
Years of effort that included evaluating multiple site plans, working on various building designs, and pursuing private and state support, ultimately led to the day in 2019 when the Indiana legislature approved $73 million in state funding, to be combined with University support and private fundraising by the college to pay for the project. “This new complex we are dedicating today truly sets the standard for an advanced veterinary medical hospital facility,” Dean Reed said.
Dean Reed then introduced Indiana State Department of Agriculture Director Bruce Kettler, who emphasized the importance of the new facilities and the College of Veterinary Medicine to what he described as the state’s phenomenal livestock sector. Kettler noted that Indiana is number one in duck production in the U.S., number two in egg production, number four in turkey production, and ranks fifth in hog production. Noting that the state has areas with shortages of veterinarians, Kettler said the new facilities offer hope for addressing that issue.
Then, Purdue President Mitch Daniels addressed the crowd and congratulated Dean Reed on the completion of the project. “There were many days to doubt that we could have this opportunity,” President Daniels recalled. “But Willie never gave up and never got down about it… Willie I’m thrilled for so many individuals, for the students who are and will come through here, for Indiana agriculture and for the veterinary profession, but most of all l am thrilled for you. Congratulations.”
President Daniels then detailed some of the background behind the effort to secure state support for the project. He said a key turning point involved helping lawmakers to understand the broader picture of the college’s impact. “If you’re only thinking about its role in agriculture – if you’re only thinking about its role in the growing world of companion animals, you’re missing a point,” President Daniels remarked as he recalled the message conveyed to stakeholders. “It has to be thought of as an integral part of our overall public health network, and our public health infrastructure. You should think about our veterinary hospital exactly the way you do the IU School of Medicine – you should see it as an independent object of public policy and public support. And I think that, finally, we reached enough people and opened enough eyes on that.”
President Daniels also thanked the donors who stepped-up to contribute to the project as part of what he described as an effort to raise an unprecedented level of private support for the college. In particular, he expressed gratitude to David and Bonnie Brunner and presented them with the President’s Council Crystal Train Award, after which Dr. Brunner shared his perspectives on the significance of the project and their reasons for supporting it.
The ceremony concluded, fittingly, with a ribbon “chewing” that featured Finn, a dog belonging to third-year veterinary student Erin Paul. Both joined the dignitaries on stage and Finn expertly chomped through a dog bone treat, severing the ribbon.
Following the ceremony that was attended by an estimated 500 people, tours were offered, enabling the guests to see first-hand the new David and Bonnie Brunner Small Animal Hospital, David and Bonnie Brunner Equine Hospital, and David and Bonnie Brunner Farm Animal Hospital. The following day, in conjunction with the College of Veterinary Medicine’s annual Open House, tours also were offered to the general public. Then on Sunday, April 10, veterinarians and veterinary nurses were invited to tour the new complex as part of “Veterinary Professionals Day,” which was set aside so they could see the facilities where they will be able to refer their patients for advanced specialty care.
The dedication ceremony and tours preceded the actual move-in process, which will be conducted over the next few weeks, with the goal of opening the Equine and Farm Animal Hospitals by mid-May and the Small Animal Hospital by the end of May.
Click here to view a recording of the complete dedication ceremony.