Brunner Purdue Veterinary Medical Hospital Complex. (photo courtesy: Pepper Construction)

As officials from Purdue University and the Indiana State Department of Agriculture celebrated the opening Friday of the school’s new 163,000-square-foot animal hospital, College of Veterinary Medicine Dean Dr. Willie Reed could not help but reflect on the long road to get to this point. Reed was appointed dean in 2006, and high on his priority list was to improve the facilities of the 60-year-old program. The school broke ground about two years ago on the $108 million veterinary medical complex.

In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Reed said he remembers talking with then-President Martin Jischke about the need.

“This is a project that I have worked on for the past 15 years. I started discussing the project…in the fall of 2006… about the need to replace our horse hospital and, and we’ve been working towards that goal ever since,” said Reed.

Reed explains in the conversation with Inside INdiana Business reporter Wes Mills how this new complex sets Purdue’s College of Veterinary Medicine apart from other schools.

The new facilities are located just east of Lynn Hall, which has served as the home of the college since the first class of veterinary students enrolled in 1959. The new facilities include a separate hospital for equine patients, a stand-alone facility for farm animals, and a new structure that will expand the Small Animal Hospital.

“We’ll be able to do expand our emergency service, which is very, very busy. And we’ve just overcrowded there. We’ll be able to expand our physical therapy unit,” said Reed. “When people walk in this hospital, and they see a swimming pool for animals for physical therapy purposes, I think they’ll be amazed to see that.”

Dr. Willie Reed was appointed dean of Purdue’s College of Veterinary Medicine in 2006. (photo courtesy: Purdue)

The university says the new facilities feature the latest equipment to enhance patient care, accommodate increased caseload, and optimize hands-on learning for veterinary students. Reed says it is important to have top-notch facilities to attract top-notch students.

“When prospective students come with their parents, they’re visiting, not just Purdue, but…other Big 10 schools throughout the country,” said Reed. “We have to work really hard to convince them that we have a great program here. Certainly, you need great facilities, but you need great people as well.”

The facility is named in honor Dr. David Brunner and his wife Bonnie who donated $10 million towards construction of the veterinary hospital. Brunner owns Broad Ripple Animal Clinic and graduated from Purdue.

The university says the $108 million veterinary hospital project was being funded with $73 million in support from the State of Indiana and $35 million from Purdue University and the College of Veterinary Medicine.

“It’s something that’s great for the community here. And in fact, for the whole state of Indiana, it’s a great place to train future veterinarians,” said Reed.