History of St. Kitts’ Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine

Malinda Larkin recounts the history of the Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine in St. Kitts. Here are excerpts with a link to the full article below:

An eccentric entrepreneur. A daughter who couldn’t get into veterinary school. A poverty-stricken country. An overnight sea voyage. All these things, both mundane and marvelous, contributed to the origin of Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine, St. Kitts, West Indies, in 1982. Actually, the story goes back a bit further, to 1976 with Robert Ross at age 57. By this time in his life, he had fought in the European theater during World War II, sold televisions in the Midwest months before stations even began broadcasting, founded a semiconductor company, and received an honorary doctorate, according to a 1992 New York Times profile.

One day in 1976, a staff member’s son who had been studying medicine in the Dominican Republic was rejected by the American hospitals to which he applied for clinical training. The staff member asked whether Ross would be willing to start a medical school. So Ross did. Two years later, he opened one just outside Portsmouth, Dominica, in a motel with 11 students.

“He chose the West Indies because he felt it was too costly and arduous to open a college in the United States,” according to the article. “In Dominica, all he needed was a charter from the government, which involved annual fees of $100,000, and eight faculty members and a dean from the United States.”

The veterinary school began much the same way. In the early 1980s, “Dr. Ross had a friend whose daughter couldn’t get into vet school, so he said, ‘Why don’t we have a vet school of our own? We already have a med school,'” said Dr. Bobby G. Brown, Ross veterinary school’s first dean. The veterinary school was chartered in Dominica as well in 1982, admitting its first class on the same campus as the medical school. Veterinary students shared many of their basic science classes with the medical students.

[. . .] Not long after the veterinary school was started, Ross decided he wanted to relocate it to St. Kitts. Dominica’s politics had been up-and-down, Dr. Brown said, and Dr. Ross didn’t want “all of his eggs in one basket” because of the potential for hurricane damage. Construction started in 1983 on two buildings in Basseterre, St. Kitts, to house laboratories, a clinic, and lecture rooms. They were finished by the time students from the first class were nearly ready to move into their final, clinical year. After another six months, the rest of the veterinary school joined them on the new island.

[. . .] “They loaded up all the equipment from the veterinary school in the boat, and on an evening two or three days after the last final exam, we all took off for St. Kitts with the microscopes needed for the vet school. We went all night on the boat. We slept in hammocks all over the boat and arrived the next morning in St. Kitts.”

Robert Ross’ involvement with the university [. . .] diminished over the years. He sold the medical and veterinary schools to Leeds Equity Partners in 2000. Three years later, Leeds sold the school to DeVry Inc. for about $310 million. Ross died March 26 of this year at the age of 92.

For full article, see http://www.avma.org/onlnews/javma/may11/110501d.asp

For more information and photo of Robert Ross, see http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/entrepreneur-part-time-palm-beacher-robert-ross-dies-1333047.html

3 thoughts on “History of St. Kitts’ Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine

  1. The history you give of Ross is interesting. I’m attending a newer St Kitts Medical School, UMHS St. Kitts. I was really excited to learn about their amazing program, as well as the state of the art facility and great staff. While there can be a huge difference between what the different schools offer, a good one offers an education that rivals any of the US medical schools and that is what I have found that UMHS does.

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