Story of Cummings School

Head shot of Jean Mayer

In 1978, Tufts University past-president, Jean Mayer’s revolutionary idea to establish a visionary veterinary school with a "One Medicine" mission and shared coursework with Tufts medical school became a reality. Today, more than 35 years later, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine embraces and broadens Mayer's strategic directive continuing to advance One Health initiatives that improve the health and well-being of animals, humans and the environment.

Cummings School faculty advance science, improve patient care and most importantly assure that our students approach the veterinary profession with knowledge-filled, open minds, and the drive to make a difference in the world.

The only veterinary school in New England, our progressive academic programs, high-quality clinical care services, and original research have brought Tufts University national and worldwide acclaim.   We offer a four-year professional Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree programthree combined DVM/Masters of Science degree programs, and four stand-alone graduate programs. Furthermore, our distinctive One Health programs focused on infectious disease research, comparative oncology, international medicine, wildlife, conservation medicine and human-animal interactions – help us educate a new breed of One Health graduates.

Researcher at microscope

Research is central to the work of Tufts University and is at the very heart of academic life. Cummings School is nationally and internationally recognized for faculty contributions in many research areas, including regenerative medicine, infectious disease, reproductive biology, and hepatic disease.   Our students gain invaluable research experience collaborating with faculty mentors in our Student Research Training Programs including the NIH-funded Summer Research Program currently in its 26th year.

Our academic teaching hospitals and clinics that offer our students high quality, hands-on clinical learning opportunities and offer our patients an opportunity to receive high-caliber, advanced and specialty veterinary care.

New lobby at Foster Hospital for Small Animals

Our clinics treat more than 80,000 patients a year including small companion animals, exotic pets, horses, farm animals, or sick and injured wildlife creatures.   We train and engage future veterinarians and advance the field of veterinary medicine through integrated clinical research programs. Our students are exposed to and often work alongside faculty members who engage in some of the latest research and leading-edge treatments.

Located in North Grafton, Massachusetts; our 594-acre campus is just 30 miles west of the city of Boston. Our students can take advantage of the area’s internationally renowned teaching hospitals and biomedical research centers, as well as join in the vibrant atmosphere of more than 300,000 college students living, learning, and growing together.

Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine has helped more than 2,000 graduates establish successful careers in a variety of fields, ranging from clinical practice and biomedical research to pioneering positions in international medicine, conservation medicine, and public health.

We value our strong partnership with Cummings Foundation and its long-term commitment to supporting our school’s mission of “healing animals, helping humans, and transforming global health.” In alignment with our efforts, Cummings Foundation, through its two grant-making affiliates: OneWorld Boston, Inc. and Cummings Institute for World Justice, LLC funds local, national and international projects.

Cummings School was fully re-accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association Council on Education (AVMA/COE) in March of 2012, for a term of seven years, the longest period allowable by the AVMA/COE. For the last five years, 98.8 percent of our graduating DVM's have passed the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination (NAVLE). The current AVMA Council on Education standard requires 80 percent of graduating seniors to pass the exam by the time of graduation.

Learn more about what makes Cummings School unique.

Milestones and Achievements

  • 1978: Tufts University established School of Veterinary Medicine, New England’s only veterinary school. Doors opened in 1979 in Boston, MA as a “One Medicine” program with shared pre-clinical instruction with Tufts School of Medicine. Partnership with Angell Memorial Animal Hospital in Boston provided the first clinical teaching venue.

  • 1981Hospital for Large Animals opened in Grafton, MA, 40 miles west of Boston, and Tufts Ambulatory Service, providing food supply and equine veterinary services, was launched in Woodstock, CT.

    1982Tufts Wildlife Clinic, first free-standing at a U.S. veterinary school, was established on the Grafton campus.

    1985: Henry and Lois Foster Hospital for Small Animals opened on the Grafton campus.

    1989: A heat-resistant vaccine for rinderpest, deadly cattle plague, was endorsed for use by the Pan-African Rinderpest Campaign. Use of this vaccine eventually led to the global eradication of rinderpest – only the second disease behind smallpox to be eliminated worldwide and the first such animal disease eradication.

  • 1991: Dr. Sue Cotter’s published research critical to creation of diagnostic tools and vaccination for feline leukemia (FeLV) retrovirus.

    1995: Launch of the Master’s Program in Animals and Public Policy, a distinctive program addressing the role of animals in society and policy implications for their welfare.

    Dual DVM/Master’s degree programs were established in Public Health (DVM/MPH) and Laboratory Animal Medicine (DVM/MS ).

    1996: Veterinary students took a leadership role in launching a national Pet Loss Support Hotline to address the needs of grieving pet owners.

    1997: Harrington Oncology Program expanded the Foster Hospital’s cancer diagnosis and treatment capabilities.

  • 2000: Launch of new PhD in Biomedical Sciences and combined DVM/MS in Comparative Biomedical Sciences.

    The last elements of the Boston campus moved to Grafton as the home campus.

    2002: The School partnered with the Swiss Village Farm (SVF) Foundation under the scientific direction of Dr. George Saperstein to preserve rare breeds and sustain livestock biodiversity.

    2003: Cummings Foundation’s $50 million naming gift to the school is the largest in the history of U.S. veterinary education. School was re-branded as the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University

    NIH awarded $25 million to Dr. Saul Tzipori to establish the Center for Botulinum Research as part of the U.S. Food and Waterborne Disease Integrated Research Network.

    2007: Leveen Family MRI Wing opened in Grafton and expanded imaging capacity to include diagnosing small and large animals.

    2008: With support from the NIH and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, New England Regional Biosafety Lab opened and expanded BSL3 biocontainment space for infectious disease research.

    New state-of-the-art, six-stall isolation ward opened to better manage the care of large animals with infectious disease.

    The Agnes Varis Campus Center and Agnes Varis Auditorium opened providing the campus with a hub for student, faculty and staff activities. Named after the school’s long-time patron, Dr. Agnes Varis, these facilities added a new dimension to campus life.

    2009: Cummings School, as part of a multidisciplinary team, received a USAID grant initially valued up to $185 million to improve the capacity of high-risk countries to respond to outbreaks of emergent zoonotic diseases.

  • 2011: A systematic curriculum review and revisions are completed. While the traditional discipline-based curriculum was retained, numerous refinements were made to increase active learning and promote evidence-based thinking.

    2012: Tufts at Tech Community Veterinary Clinic launched and recognized as the first-of-its kind partnership between a veterinary school and a vocational technical high school. The on-site, primary care venue serves low income clients and facilitates educational and outreach opportunities for both veterinary professional and high school students.

    2013: The Department of Infectious Disease and Global Health was created, integrating the school’s strength in infectious disease research with its unique expertise in international, wildlife and conservation medicine.

    Tufts Foster Hospital for Small Animals (FHSA) at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine provisionally designated as among the first Veterinary Trauma Centers by the American College of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care.

    2014: The Regenerative Medicine Laboratory, under the leadership of Dr. Andrew Hoffman, received an initial $1 million grant to expand its study of stem cell therapies for dogs with naturally occurring conditions resembling human diseases.