Bequest to Penn's Vet School will Support Equine and Canine Research

A $9.8 million gift to the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine from the estate of Isabel (Mrs. Alan R.) Robson will enhance the school's ability to educate future veterinarians while conducting cutting-edge equine and canine research.

"Penn is enormously grateful for this extraordinary gift, the largest ever to our Veterinary School from a private individual," President Amy Gutmann said in announcing the gift. "Mrs. Robson was truly a visionary who understood that this generous endowment would provide critical funding to enhance pioneering efforts in veterinary healing, teaching, and research long into the future."

Alan Kelly, BVSc, MRCVS, PhD, the Gilbert S. Kahn Dean of Veterinary Medicine, also lauded Robson's legacy, adding that "Mrs. Robson's transforming gift will have a profound effect on our research, which will translate into significant gains for teaching and clinical care."

The Robson gift will support the School's comprehensive $100-million fundraising campaign, Building New Levels of Excellence. As Robson wished, her gift will be added to the School's endowment with annual interest divided equally between canine and equine health research.

"Mrs. Robson's outstanding generosity will help ensure our continued leadership role in canine research," said Gail Smith, VMD, PhD, chair of the Department of Clinical Studies in Philadelphia. "This gift will mean many more opportunities for our faculty to advance the care and treatment of dogs." The school is a leader in the development of new treatments and technologies to improve the health and care of both companion and large animals, and is at the forefront of training students and veterinarians in diagnosing, preventing, and curing animal diseases.

According to Dr. David Nunamaker, VMD, Dipl. ACVS, chair of the Department of Clinical Studies at New Bolton Center, "In bequeathing such a substantial sum, Mrs. Robson demonstrated her understanding of the need for continued research in equine veterinary medicine. This gift will translate the work of dedicated researchers and clinicians into applicable, proven therapies."

During her life, Robson was a devoted and successful owner and breeder of show animals. Dogs owned by Mrs. Robson, including Dalmatians, dachshunds, and poodles, dominated many prestigious shows, most notably that of the Westminster Kennel Club. She was president of both the Devon Dog Show Association and Chester Valley Kennel Club, and served as an American Kennel Club licensed judge. She also served on the Ladies Committee at Penn's companion animal hospital for many years.

In addition, Robson served as president of the Hackney Horse Association for a decade, and was an officer of the Eastern Saddle Horse Breeders Association. She was named Horsewoman of the Year in 1979 by the American Horse Show Association and was inducted into the World Championship Hall of Fame in 1997. With her husband, she owned Albelarm Farm in Glenmoore, Pa.

Penn's Veterinary School receives annual operating support from foundations, individual donors, and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, resulting in a highly successful public/private higher-education partnership. In addition, the School actively pursues alliances and partnerships with industry, other universities, government laboratories, and nongovernmental organizations to ensure a comprehensive approach to research. The Robson gift will complement this funding, enabling the School to continue to provide an unrivaled veterinary education to some of this country's brightest students.

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