University of Wisconsin–Madison

UW School of Veterinary Medicine Breaks Ground on Building Expansion

Bucky Badger and Chancellor Rebecca Blank stand with donors and other members of the campus and state community as they take shovels in hand during a UW School of Veterinary Medicine building expansion and renovation groundbreaking. (Photos by Bryce Richter / UW-Madison)

On Friday, June 18, the University of Wisconsin–Madison School of Veterinary Medicine broke ground on its long-anticipated building expansion and celebrated the project’s future impact for veterinarians in training, the state of Wisconsin and beyond.

The enhanced facilities will improve instruction space for students, double the size of the school’s small animal hospital and significantly enhance the large animal hospital, expand labs for studying naturally occurring animal and human diseases, and increase and modernize infectious disease research space.

Speakers at the event included Wisconsin Department of Administration Secretary Joel Brennan, UW System Interim President Tommy Thompson, UW–Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank, UW Foundation President Michael Knetter, Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation CEO Erik Iverson and School of Veterinary Medicine Dean Mark Markel.

“Today we celebrate the beginning of a new era in veterinary medicine at UW–Madison,” said Chancellor Blank. “The construction of this new facility is going to provide the school with a home that befits its reputation and its importance to the university, the state and the nation.”

Markel and others thanked the myriad individuals and organizations who helped to make possible the building expansion, acknowledging “all that they’ve done to bring us to where we are today.” He noted that the ceremony occurred 40 years after the school broke ground on its current building. In attendance and among those who ceremoniously shoveled was the school’s founding dean, Bernard Easterday, who brought with him two shovels from the original groundbreaking event in 1981.

Speaking amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Blank and others pointed to the critical importance of infectious disease research conducted at the School of Veterinary Medicine, made all the more evident by SVM research discoveries that have advanced the fight against COVID-19 through vaccine, treatment and containment strategies. Research at the school has also led to more effective cancer treatments for pets and people, identified new ways to fight the flu, helped optimize cow comfort and health, and delivered numerous other insights in veterinary and human medicine.

“The vet school has long been a leader in responding to public health concerns. This much-needed new facility is going to allow us to stay at the forefront of that type of research on life-saving discovery and innovation,” said Blank.

The expansion will include a new building located in what is now Lot 62, connected to a remodeled current building located on Linden Drive. This addition and renovation will allow the school to overcome severe space shortages and ensure it remains a global leader in training the next generation of veterinarians, serving animal patients, and making critical research discoveries that advance animal and human health.

Groundbreaking ceremony attendees look over architectural renderings.

Established in 1983, the UW School of Veterinary Medicine has graduated 2,500 veterinarians since opening its doors. The school’s teaching hospital, UW Veterinary Care, sees nearly 28,000 patient visits annually across more than 20 specialty services. (The current hospital was built to see 12,000 patients annually and house 10 specialty services.)

The school and its faculty also benefit Wisconsin’s animal production industries in a variety of ways, including training veterinarians who will continue to advance animal agriculture in the state and providing insights into the treatment, prevention and control of diseases that pose critical threats to agricultural industries.

Approval of the UW School of Veterinary Medicine building project was signed into law in Wisconsin’s 2019-21 budget. State-supported borrowing in the budget will fund approximately two-thirds of the $128 million expansion and renovation project, while the school was committed to raising the remainder of funds.

In October 2019, a $15 million gift from the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation pushed the school past the necessary $38 million in private gift support to allow the building expansion project to be bid and constructed. The school continues to raise funds needed – more than $20 million – to fully outfit the building with the specialized equipment required by complex clinical cases, research laboratories and teaching spaces.

A 3-D architectural rendering of the proposed future building is pictured during a UW School of Veterinary Medicine building expansion and renovation groundbreaking ceremony held in parking lot 62 north of the existing Veterinary Medicine building at the University of Wisconsin-Madison on June 18, 2021. (Photo by Bryce Richter / UW-Madison)

Design for the building expansion has been completed by Flad Architects, Foil Wyatt Architects & Planners LLC, Affiliated Engineers, Inc. and UW-Madison, UW System and Wisconsin Department of Administration representatives. Construction of a five-story parking garage in the east half of Lot 62, to make space for the adjacent expansion, is also completed.

CD Smith was selected as the general contractor for the building expansion and renovation. Construction will begin in June 2021, with completion of the addition projected for 2023 and renovations of the existing building in late 2024.