SUNY Delhi Pioneers Veterinary Science Technology

In 1961, SUNY Delhi was the first college in the United States to develop a Veterinary Technology program to train professional veterinary technicians. Before that, the field of veterinary medicine did not include trained technicians, and veterinarians would often practice alone with the help of a layman receptionist who would also perform housekeeping and basic nursing duties. Initially called Animal Health Technology, Delhi’s program produced its first eight graduates two years later. It was soon recognized as a national trendsetter.

Walter Collins (1930-2019), a Delhi graduate ’50 who went on to earn a doctorate in Veterinary Medicine, became a champion for the program. Dr. Collins actively promoted the veterinary technician profession, trying to prove that it was an important part of a veterinary health care team. In the 1960s, while juggling his own veterinary practice and teaching as a professor at Delhi, Collins received federal funding to develop a model curriculum for training veterinary technicians. He produced several guides over the next seven years, earning the title “father of veterinary technology” for his contributions.

“Walt Collins adopted Delhi’s concept of veterinary technicians, fostered it, nurtured it, and started it on its way to the profession it is today,” said Dan Walsh ’75, a former faculty member. “He was a true pioneer.”

According to Alan Franks ’74, Veterinary Technology Professor at SUNY Delhi as well as a former student of Dr. Collins, he was “a friend and mentor to all his students. He inspired us to do our best and become outstanding representatives of the program and ambassadors for the veterinary technician profession.”

Dr. Collins also inspired a number of his colleagues to go out and start other Vet Tech programs.

“His legacy is every veterinary technician who has ever graduated from a vet tech program in the U.S.,” Franks said. “He was truly the father of veterinary technology.”

Delhi’s investments in outstanding facilities, faculty, and staff have helped the program keep its competitive edge.

“Delhi’s program has always stood head and shoulders above the rest,” said Walsh. Delhi offers “an unparalleled caliber of education.”

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