Longtime CVM advocate
E.T. York dies

By Sarah Carey

The late Dr. E.T. York, left, receives the college's Special Service Award in 2006 from Dr. Julio Ibanez, then-president of the college's alumni council.

The late Dr. E.T. York, a former state university system chancellor, University of Florida provost and vice president of agricultural affairs, was a person of many accomplishments, but to many at the UF College of Veterinary Medicine he will always be remembered as a true friend and advocate without whose support Florida’s only veterinary college might never have come to be.

York died April 15 in Gainesville after a long illness. In the 1960s and 1970s, York led the effort to establish the UF College of Veterinary Medicine, which opened its doors in September 1976. The college  honored York’s commitment in 2006 with one of its highest honors, the Special Service Award.

“It’s because of Dr. York that the college exists today,” said Dr. Jim Thompson, then-interim dean of the UF veterinary college, at the time. Thompson now serves as dean of the University of Tennessee’s veterinary college. “Everybody here recognizes that when they hear his name. We wanted to show our gratitude, and this was a fitting way to do it.”

Dr. E.T. York, left, and the college's founding dean, Dr. Charles Cornelius, are shown at the college's groundbreaking ceremony in 1976.

York’s work to establish the college dates back to 1963, when he arrived at UF to serve as provost for agriculture. As York recounted in his memoirs, “A Wonderful Journey,” he soon became aware that throughout the state there was great concern over the need for a veterinary college.

In 1967, York was appointed to represent UF in matters related to the creation of a state veterinary college. Thanks in part to his efforts, in 1969 the Florida Legislature designated UF as the location of the college, and appropriated funding sufficient to start the planning process and hire a few key personnel, including a dean.

In early 1972, newly inaugurated Gov. Reubin Askew stated his intention to halt funding to develop the college, which led to a daring – and ultimately successful – effort by York to persuade legislators to approve the funding by a margin so great that the governor could not exercise his veto power.

The bill passed with more than 90 percent support from both houses. Months later, Gov. Askew encountered York on the UF campus during homecoming festivities.

As York wrote, “…the governor saw me, came over and put his arm around my shoulder and said, ‘Well, E.T., we’re going to have our veterinary college, aren’t we?’ I replied, ‘Yes, Governor, we surely are.’”

In the 35 years the college has been operational, York remained, until recently years, involved in its activities, serving on various advisory committees.

The York family contributed generously to the new UF Small Animal Hospital, which opened in November.

Editor’s note: Information from a story written by Tom Nordlie in 2006 was used in this article.

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