E.T. York Receives Special Service Award from UF Veterinary College

Tom Nordlie (352) 392-0400

E.T. York york@ifas.ufl.edu, (352) 392-6545

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For interviews with James Thompson, contact Sarah Carey at (352) 392-4700, ext. 5206, careys@mail.vetmed.ufl.edu

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — In the 1960s and ‘70s, E.T. York led the effort to establish the state’s first veterinary college. The result was the University of Florida’s College of Veterinary Medicine, which recently expressed its appreciation by presenting York with one of its highest honors, the Special Service Award.

York, whose storied career includes posts as chancellor of Florida’s State University System, UF interim president and UF vice president for agricultural affairs, was recognized at the college’s commencement ceremony May 27 at UF’s Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.

The award was presented by Julio Ibanez, a member of the college’s first graduating class and president of its alumni council.

James Thompson, interim dean of the college, called York the person most responsible for creating the college, which opened its doors in September 1976.

“It’s because of Dr. York that the college exists today,” Thompson said. “Everybody here recognizes that when they hear his name. We wanted to show our gratitude, and this was a fitting way to do it.”

The Special Service Award is one of three equally prestigious honors that comprise the college’s Distinguished Awards Program, established by its alumni council in 2000, Thompson said. The Special Service Award is the only award in the trio that may be presented to individuals who have not been directly involved in veterinary practice or trained at the college.

York’s work to establish the college dates back to 1963, when he arrived at UF to serve as provost for agriculture. As York recounted in his memoirs, “A Wonderful Journey,” he soon became aware that throughout the state there was great concern over the need for a veterinary college.

In 1967, York was appointed to represent UF in matters related to the creation of a state veterinary college. Thanks in part to his efforts, in 1969 the Florida Legislature designated UF as the location of the college, and appropriated funding sufficient to start the planning process and hire a few key personnel, including a dean.

In early 1972, newly inaugurated Gov. Reubin Askew stated his intention to halt funding to develop the college, which led to a daring – and ultimately successful – effort by York to persuade legislators to approve the funding by a margin so great that the governor could not exercise his veto power.

The bill passed with more than 90 percent support from both houses. Months later, Gov. Askew encountered York on the UF campus during homecoming festivities.

As York wrote, “…the governor saw me, came over and put his arm around my shoulder and said, ‘Well, E.T., we’re going to have our veterinary college, aren’t we?’ I replied, ‘Yes, Governor, we surely are.’”

In the 30 years the college has been operational, York has remained involved in its activities, serving on various advisory committees.

Thompson said York’s energy and dedication to UF should serve as an inspiration to all the university’s supporters.

“I’m very proud for him, and I’m glad I was present to see him honored this way,” Thompson said. “To our college, he’s truly a hero.”



Posted: June 7, 2006

Category: UF/IFAS

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