March 1, 2007
February 27, members of the School of Veterinary Medicine community honored one of the school's most influential educators by renaming its veterinary medicine laboratory facility the Ira M. "Gary" Gourley Clinical Teaching Center.
A DVM graduate of Washington State University, Ira M. "Gary" Gourley obtained his PhD in surgery from the University of Minnesota. Dr. Gourley was one of the early diplomates of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons. He joined the faculty in 1968 and served with distinction for 23 years.
"The quality that defined Dr. Gourley as an educator," said Dean Bennie Osburn , "was his extraordinary dedication to surgical teaching. A demanding and effective instructor, Dr. Gourley made special efforts to involve students in surgical procedures and maximize their surgical experience."
Dr. Gourley also served by example to turn the Small Animal Surgery service in the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital (VMTH) into one of the finest small animal surgical referral centers in the United States. Among his many publications, Dr. Gourley co-authored the books General Small Animal Surgery and the Atlas of Small Animal Surgery.
Due to his expertise in plastic and reconstructive surgery, particularly in microsurgery—he was once one of only two microsurgeons in the state—Dr. Gourley became responsible for microsurgical training in both the School of Veterinary Medicine and the School of Medicine, where he also held an appointment.
Dr. Gourley performed the first successful feline kidney transplant in 1987. "It was my privilege to work with Dr. Gourley as a resident and junior faculty member for six or seven years," stated Clare Gregory, head of the hospital's kidney transplant unit. "He played a tremendous role in my development as a surgeon and teacher."
In the early 1980s, Dr. Gourley was instrumental in helping to redefine a professional DVM "core and track" curriculum that is now a model for other veterinary schools. This approach provides students with a core foundation in comparative veterinary medicine and a flexible elective component for exploration of species-specific interests or non-traditional areas of veterinary science.
Dr. Gourley gave much credit to colleagues as he accepted a plaque from Dean Osburn in front of family, former colleagues, former students and current members of the faculty. "I had a lot of help from others, including Drs. Alida Wind and Robert Leighton," he said. "We didn't have specialties at that time. We worked hard to do the best we could."
He also complimented school administrators on the design of the new teaching center and, more importantly, the programs within it. "Special care has been taken," he noted, to provide students with a way to learn surgical techniques as if they were practicing in a clinic. "And I'm impressed with the way they handle the animals—they are well taken care of."
The Gourley Clinical Teaching Center contains a suite with 28 surgery tables as well as anesthesia and recovery rooms. The building also holds classrooms and animal holding areas, including 131 kennels. At this center, faculty members teach third- and fourth-year veterinary students how to perform spay-neuter surgeries and other common healing procedures on shelter animals. On recovery, the animals return to participating shelters as adoptable pets.
In 2002, the center opened in the Health Sciences District as the Veterinary Medicine Laboratory Facility. It cost $16.4 million in combined state and private funds. Since 2004, faculty members, staff and student volunteers have turned the teaching center into a large-scale veterinary clinic once a year to spay and neuter more than 100 dogs on Spay Day.
Lynn Narlesky, Communications, (530) 752-5257