Archived News


December 14, 2005

December 14, 2005

The UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine has received its largest gift on record--nearly $13 million from the estate of a Reno, Nevada, animal lover to support scholarships for veterinary students faced with rising educational costs.

The donor, Theodora Peigh, passed away more than a decade ago. Before her death, Peigh asked that the bulk of her Nevada estate be left to UC Davis in the hopes of advancing animal health care. The proceeds from the sale of the multi-million dollar estate (which took many years to finalize) have established an endowment to fund scholarships for students pursuing veterinary medical degrees at UC Davis.

Since 1995, when the first portion of Peigh's gift arrived at the school, roughly 650 students have received support from the Peigh scholarships. And because the Peigh endowment was set up in perpetuity, hundreds more will benefit from the $2,000 to $40,000 scholarships in the years to come.

Bennie Osburn, dean of the School of Veterinary Medicine, expressed his gratitude for the gift.

"I never had the good fortune to meet Mrs. Peigh, but she clearly had her animals and the veterinarians that care for them in her heart," said Osburn. "Her generosity will be a legacy to our school for many, many years. Our students will continue to benefit from her love for animals."

Dr. Jack Walther, a 1963 graduate of the School of Veterinary Medicine, was a good friend of both Peigh and her late husband, Al.

He took care of the many animals that lived on the Peigh ranch.

"Little did I realize some 40 years ago as I traveled on a ranch call 50 miles north of Reno, that I was about to meet a most extraordinary person," Walther said. "I always marveled at the love Theo Peigh had for her animals and her desire to help young people. Her gift to our veterinary school fulfilled her life's passion to ensure the care of animals by helping young people become doctors of veterinary medicine."

Gifts such as Peigh's planned estate gift take time to convert to actual funds for their intended use. When Peigh passed away, her estate was worth $6 million. When the estate is finally liquidated into funds for student scholarships, the total benefit to UC Davis will be $12.6 million.

The Peigh scholarships are presented to students each year in any of several areas, including outstanding academic achievement, dual degree programs, off-campus clinical work, as well as need and merit.

Each scholarship provides assistance with academic and, in some cases, living expenses. In the past few years, student registration fees have increased by 95 percent, to almost $22,000 a year, and scholarship and grant programs provide financial support to more than 85 percent of the school's students.

Robert Brosnan, new to the School of Veterinary Medicine faculty as an assistant professor, was one of the recipients of a Peigh scholarship as a student there. Brosnan received his veterinary medical degree and doctorate in physiology from the school, and the scholarship helped him tremendously.

"Support from the Peigh dual-degree scholarship allowed me to focus on my research during the summer," Brosnan said. "As a result, I was able to make good progress on my degree during this time."

Peigh, whose primary interest was in breeding quarter horses, also wanted assurance that her pet cats, dogs and horses were well taken care of after her passing. While most of her pets have passed away since her death, one of the horses, named Kid, still remains in the care of the School of Veterinary Medicine's Center for Equine Health. Kid, who is now 15 years old, is a "happy camper," according to his caretakers at the center.

The news release above was originally distributed by the UC Davis News Service.

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