Bequest honors Nicoletti, benefits Florida veterinary college

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Dr. Paul Nicoletti
Dr. Paul Nicoletti

A Tampa, Fla., couple was so grateful for the brucellosis expertise of a University of Florida veterinary professor that they have willed more than half their $2 million estate to the College of Veterinary Medicine in his honor.

The bequest, made by the late Bob F. and Evelyn B. Deriso, is the largest individual gift the college has ever received and will be used to enhance food animal education. They bestowed it in honor of Dr. Paul Nicoletti, who teaches epidemiology at the college. Bob Deriso died several years ago, and Evelyn, earlier this year.

In the 1970s, the Department of Agriculture opposed the vaccination of adult cattle as a means of controlling brucellosis, adhering instead to a test and slaughter policy. At that time, Dr. Nicoletti worked for the USDA and spent time in the Middle East as a United Nations agricultural consultant.

"I had a clear conflict of interest because I was in favor of vaccination," he said. Vaccination later became an accepted method.

When the Derisos asked the late Tampa attorney J. Danforth Browne for a suggestion on where to bequeath a portion of their estate, he recommended that some proceeds be used to honor Dr. Nicoletti, who had made a difference in controlling cattle disease, and to further the related sciences.

According to Dr. Nicoletti, the gift will total $1.3 million when the final $100,000 is received. The college plans to build a food animal center, classrooms, and distance learning facilities. "Gift giving is often done out of appreciation for something," he said. "Here's a thankful couple who's giving back."

Dr. Nicoletti is a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Preventive Medicine, a former Florida VMA president, and the 1991 recipient of the XIIth International Veterinary Congress Prize from the AVMA.

Dean Joseph DiPietro of the UF veterinary college said, "The college is very grateful to receive this gift and appreciates greatly the instrumental role Dr. Nicoletti had in making it happen."