LSU veterinary school gifted $10.1M to fund five programs

Published on December 31, 2018
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Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine has received the largest gift in its history with a $10.1 million combined estate commitment from Herman C. Soong, MD, and his wife, Connie Soong.

The couple's Chihuahuas have been long-time patients at the veterinary school. Dr. Soong also does work with Dr. Wendy Wolfson, assistant professor of veterinary clinical sciences at LSU, in the Shelter Medicine Program to educate veterinary students on the signs of animal abuse and how it can translate to violent crimes against humans.

"Connie was the first to make a commitment with her estate at $2 million in 2016, creating the Connie Soong Good Samaritan Endowment," said Tracy N. Evans, senior director of development at the LSU veterinary school. "(Dr. Soong) wanted everyone to celebrate Connie and her gift first before moving forward with his. And so we knew he would be eventually following in his wife's footsteps, but he was unsure of the amount. Since LSU is in the midst of launching a major campaign, we asked Dr. Soong to make as large of a commitment as possible to create a significant impact on inspiring others. We also needed to work with him on how he wanted his gift allocated."

Herman and Connie Soong
Herman Soong, MD, and his wife, Connie Soong, are honored on the field during Louisiana State University's football game against the University of Alabama on Nov. 3, 2018. (Courtesy of LSU Athletic Department)

The university is on the cusp of launching a billion-dollar fundraising campaign involving all LSU campuses across the state. The public launch will take place in March.

The Soongs' combined commitment will fund the Connie Soong Good Samaritan Fund to care for injured homeless animals, sustain what will now be known as the Dr. Herman C. Soong Shelter Medicine Program, establish the Dr. Herman C. Soong Minority Scholarship for veterinary students from groups underrepresented in veterinary medicine, establish the Dr. Herman C. Soong Oncology Professorship, and create the Dr. Herman C. Soong Veterinary Forensic Sciences Program to fund forensic training that will help veterinarians and law enforcement officials identify animal abuse and prevent violent crimes against people.

Evans said the decision to separate the money in such a way came about by having conversations about what type of legacy Dr. Soong wanted to leave behind for the veterinary school. For example, the forensic program came out of his personal work in that area.

"Herman said, 'We are never going to make a difference in saving human lives if we can't get the government—whether it is local, state, federal—to start putting harsher penalties on animal abusers.' And so he wants the fund to train people not just to identify animal abuse, but on what do you do after you treat the animal," Evans said.

Related JAVMA content:

When domestic violence arrives at the clinic door (Sept. 15, 2018)

Grateful clients contribute funds to veterinary colleges (May 01, 2007)

$39M given to The Ohio State veterinary college (Nov. 15, 2016)

$10 million gift will fund canine genomics research (Nov. 15, 2010)

Animal shelter to be built on LSU campus (Sept. 15, 2016)