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December 15, 2020

As dean, Pritchard led UC-Davis veterinary school to greatness

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Dr. Pritchard
Dr. William R. Pritchard

Dr. William R. Pritchard, a science adviser to two U.S. presidents and veterinary college dean whose congressional testimony secured federal funding for veterinary education and teaching hospitals, died Oct. 18. He was 95.

The University of California-Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, where Dr. Pritchard served as dean for 20 years, renamed its teaching hospital after Dr. Pritchard in 2007 in recognition of his career achievements in veterinary education and service.

“We celebrate his accomplishments and are saddened by his loss,” the school said in a statement.

Dr. Pritchard was born Nov. 15, 1924, in Portage, Wisconsin, and served in the U.S. Army during World War II. He graduated in 1946 with a veterinary degree from Kansas State University and would go on to earn a doctorate in 1953 from the University of Minnesota and, four years later, a law degree from the University of Indiana.

With his experience in tropical veterinary medicine, international agriculture development, and law, Dr. Pritchard served as an international consultant on several U.S. agricultural research and development programs and for the Rockefeller Foundation.

After his appointment in 1962 as dean of the UC-Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Pritchard started major expansions in facilities and the professional curriculum. He and other faculty leaders completed a comprehensive self-study document that gave rise to major curricular and policy changes in the 1970s.

In 1966, Dr. Pritchard testified before the U.S. House of Representatives regarding the future of veterinary education. His vision and leadership are credited with helping gain federal funding for veterinary schools and teaching hospitals in the U.S. and with making UC-Davis a model for American and Canadian veterinary schools.

Dr. Pritchard was appointed to President Lyndon Johnson’s Science Advisory Committee Panel on the World Food Supply, chaired the Scientific and Cultural Exchange Mission to the USSR in 1967, and served on President Richard Nixon’s Science Advisory Committee Panel on Biological and Medical Science.

Dr. Pritchard is survived by his wife, Deanna Falge; two daughters and a son; 11 grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

Donations may be made to the UCD Foundation for the Pritchard Clinical Scholar Award and sent to UC-Davis, SVM, PO Box 1167, Davis, CA 95616.

Read more December 15, 2020 JAVMA News obituaries