In Memory: Dr. Terry Curtin (PU PhD ’64), Former PVM Faculty Member and NC State Veterinary Medicine Founding Dean

Friday, January 22, 2021

The veterinary medical profession lost a long-time leader last month with the passing of Dr. Terrence Michael Curtin, a graduate of the Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine and former faculty member who went on to serve as the founding dean of the North Carolina State College of Veterinary Medicine. He died December 15, 2020 at the age of 94.

Born in South Dakota, Dr. Curtin grew up on a farm where he was exposed to the challenges of caring for farm animals, and learned the importance of veterinary medicine for their well-being. After serving in World War II as a member of the United States Army, he earned a bachelor’s degree along with a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Minnesota. Following several years during which he operated his own practice in South Dakota, Dr. Curtin came to Purdue where he earned a master’s degree in 1963 followed by a PhD degree in 1964, both in basic medical sciences. He then stayed on as a Purdue faculty member before taking a position at the University of Missouri where he served as professor and chairman of veterinary physiology and pharmacology. In 1973, Dr. Curtin was recruited by NC State where he launched the veterinary science department in the university’s School of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Then, in 1979, he was named the NC State College of Veterinary Medicine’s founding dean.

Under Dr. Curtin’s leadership, the college flourished, enrolling its first class of 40 students in 1981 and achieving official accreditation in 1985. Dr. Curtin continued serving as dean until his retirement in 1992, after which he remained active as professor emeritus in the Department of Molecular Biomedical Sciences, and in representing the college and the North Carolina Veterinary Medical Association at many public service and advocacy events.

Dr. Curtin was recognized with many awards throughout his career in honor of his achievements. In 1983, Dr. Curtin received the Veterinarian of the Year Award from the North Carolina Veterinary Medical Association. He later served as president of the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC) in 1989, and was named Distinguished Veterinarian of the Year in 1990, the highest award granted by the North Carolina Veterinary Medical Association. Additionally, in 1992, Dr. Curtin was recognized with an honorary doctorate from the Purdue University College of Science for education beyond the classroom.

In recent years, Dr. Curtin authored several books including The College of Veterinary Medicine, North Carolina State University: A Personal Perspective of Its Founding, published in 2010, and a memoir, If You Wanna Get Hit, You Gotta Stand in the Way, published in 2011.

A memorial service was held for Dr. Curtin on December 22, 2020 in Raleigh, N.C. Click here for a full obituary. Click here to read the memorial story released by N.C. State honoring Dr. Curtin.

Writer(s): Jonathan Martz, PVM Communications Intern, and Allison Carey |

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