The University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine recently received $2 million from the estate of a Florida couple whose veterinarian attended the college.
The gift initially puzzled college officials because the late Thomas M. Morris Jr. and his wife, Dorothy May Morris, of Fort Lauderdale had no obvious ties to the college. But college officials later discovered that the couple's veterinarian, Dr. William Meriwether (UGA '54), had casually recommended the college to Thomas Morris, who said he was looking for a way to do something for animals after his death.
"It was just an offhand remark," Dr. Meriwether, who has since retired, said in a statement. "But he had a lot of confidence in me, which I appreciated, and I'm glad I was able to help."
The gift will be used to fund veterinary scholarships for students in a new DVM-PhD degree program. The scholarship fund is expected to yield $90,000 annually, according to the college. The scholarships will be a boon for students in the program, which will take six or seven years to complete, and might otherwise be cost-prohibitive, said Dr. Keith Prasse, dean of the college.
Dean Prasse said though the size of the gift is extraordinary, it's not unusual for the college to receive gifts from people with no connection to the college.
"It's the way many big gifts come in," he said. "The relationship between people and animals is profound. That relationship is often enhanced by veterinarians, and veterinary schools are often benefactors."