Retired professor gives $1 million to UF for scholarships


Dr. Paul Nicoletti

Dr. Paul Nicoletti

A retired veterinary medicine professor has donated $1 million to the University of Florida that will allow students from low-income backgrounds to follow his career path.

Dr. Paul Nicoletti, a professor emeritus of infectious diseases at the UF College of Veterinary Medicine, made the gift to the college’s branch of the Florida Opportunity Scholars Program. The gift will be awarded in Nicoletti’s name and will create graduate-level scholarships.

“Paul is a wonderful role model for aspiring veterinary medicine students, and with this gift he’s really raised the bar,” said UF President Bernie Machen, who created the Florida Opportunity Scholars Program that now bears his name. “The next generation of veterinarians will include his great legacy.”

The Florida Opportunity Scholars program provides full financial support for low-income students who are the first in their families to attend college. Since its inception, it has supported more than 2,600 students.

Nicoletti said the inspiration for his gift sprang from his own life experience.

A small, yet significant, $150 Sears Roebuck scholarship took him from his family farm in Missouri and helped put him through college at the University of Missouri’s College of Veterinary Medicine. He later obtained a master’s degree at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in epidemiology.

Nicoletti spent part of his career working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. There, he made a major contribution to Florida agriculture in the 1970s by improving control methods of brucellosis, a disease threatening livestock and humans.

That work took him to Iran with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization from 1968 to 1972. There, he helped develop diagnostic facilities for animal and human disease control, including brucellosis.

Following his work with the USDA, Nicoletti spent 28 years at the UF College of Veterinary Medicine as a faculty member and a personal advisor to many students.

Nicoletti received several awards and honors nationally and internationally for his work on public health, including the prestigious Meyer-Steele Gold Head Cane Award in 2010, which is the highest honor from the American Veterinary Epidemiology Society. It is given to scientists who have made a significant contribution in improving human health through their work in veterinary epidemiology and public health. In February, he was inducted into the Florida Agricultural Hall of Fame.

While still a faculty member, Nicoletti endowed a scholarship fund for students with financial need who are interested in public health. After retiring in 2003, he endowed another need-based scholarship fund for students interested in food animal medicine careers.

“I have a very special place in my concerns for scholarships and for the support that scholarships give, financially and psychologically, to students by giving them the opportunity to go to college,” Nicoletti said.


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April 2013

Dr. Paul Nicoletti

Retired professor gives $1 million to UF for scholarships

A retired veterinary medicine professor has donated $1 million to UF for student scholarships.

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