Faculty of Veterinary Science Centenary celebrations

Centenary sculpture unveiling speech - Professor Ken Hinchcliff

Dr Mark Lawrie (President of the AVA), Professors Blood, Jubb and Caple (past deans of the faculty), Dr Val Sloss and Mrs Astra Sloss, Dr Peter Cullen (President of MUVS), graduates of the school and friends of the Faculty - thank you for joining us on this special day.

Welcome to the unveiling of this sculpture – New Life – and the opportunity it affords us to pause and review our past and to reflect on our future.

For 100 years, the Melbourne School of Veterinary Science has inspired some of the best minds in the world. Today we continue to attract the best and brightest students from across Australia and the world to study and work at this institution.

More than 2,000 veterinarians and over 400 postgraduate students have graduated from the School. The success of the School can be judged by the contribution that our staff and graduates have made to almost every field of veterinary science, thereby enhancing animal health and welfare, improving food safety and quality, and caring for animals that provide companionship to humans.

To ensure that the University of Melbourne continues to provide leadership in Veterinary Science and responds to the changing needs of society and the veterinary profession, we will introduce a new professional entry graduate degree from 2011, as part of the Melbourne curriculum. Our new graduate degree, the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, will provide a cohort of veterinarians superbly equipped to contribute to solving some of the major health and welfare problems facing animals and humans in the twenty-first century.

Our new sculpture, entitled "New Life", will be a lasting celebration of the centenary of the establishment of the veterinary school at the University of Melbourne and 100 years of achievements. This sculpture will be the iconographic expression of the values of the School of Veterinary Science at the University of Melbourne.

I take this opportunity to acknowledge the hard work and determination of Bruce Parry in bringing this sculpture project to fruition. Thank you, Bruce.

I also thank the many donors whose generous contributions made this sculpture possible – without your support we would not have this endearing and enduring reminder of the history of this veterinary school.

I particularly thank Dr Val Sloss for agreeing to be the subject of this icon of the Veterinary School. As a graduate of this school wrote to me earlier in the week:

"No man loved a chance to pull a calf more than Val did, but he taught us about the abilities of mother nature, the first rule to 'Do no harm' and the second one 'Don't interfere unless you can improve the situation'. Practical scholarship, integrity, care for animals and respect for your fellow man. And through all those muddy tracks, the downer cows, the freezing wind and the rain trickling down the back of your neck, is the constant miracle of new life struggling to its wobbly feet. The spirit of Val Sloss is an appropriate choice indeed to symbolise what the Vet School has been about for the last century, and what it will continue to achieve for the next.”

I cannot say it better.

We have achieved a lot in the last century; this is testament to the passion and dedication of the School’s teachers, researchers and graduates. But we could not have achieved so much without the support of the veterinary profession, animal industries, animal welfare organisations, the wider community and benefactors, who have all contributed to the School’s legacy in their own way.

The Melbourne School of Veterinary Science has an outstanding history. Our challenge is to ensure that the next 100 years are at least as successful. I am confident that with the support of our graduates, the University and our supporters we can inspire and enable the next generation of great minds so that we will achieve this success.