In Memory: Former PVM Faculty Member George C. Christensen

Friday, October 2, 2020

The Purdue Veterinary Medicine family is saddened to learn that Dr. George C. Christensen, a former professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine, passed away August 1 in Ames, Iowa.  He was 96.

Born to Norwegian immigrants, Dr. Christensen grew up on Staten Island in New York City.  After serving in the United States Army during World War II, he attended Cornell University where he earned his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, Master of Science and PhD degrees in 1949, 1950, and 1953.

Dr. Christensen started teaching veterinary anatomy in 1950 at Cornell and then joined the Iowa State faculty as associate professor of veterinary anatomy in 1953.  He came to Purdue in 1958 and served on the faculty five years before returning to Iowa State where he became professor of veterinary medicine and dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine.  Two years later, in 1965, he was appointed as Iowa State’s vice president for academic affairs, a position he held until 1987 when he was named executive director of international programs.

In 1989, Dr. Christensen accepted an appointment with the University of Alaska Statewide System as vice president for academic affairs and, for a period of time, acting president of the system. He retired in 1992 and returned to Ames, Iowa, where Iowa State University named him Distinguished Professor of Veterinary Medicine Emeritus and created Christensen Drive at the veterinary college in his honor.

During his academic career, Dr. Christensen was directly involved with establishing several new university colleges and academic degree programs, affirmative action and honors programs, women’s study programs, faculty recognition awards, environmental programs, international student-faculty exchanges with universities in over 40 countries and international education programs for students, faculty, and governmental and business leaders. In addition, Dr. Christensen held numerous leadership positions in professional organizations relating to anatomical nomenclature and research, higher education, international education, and the accreditation of universities and colleges.

The co-author of a mammalian anatomy textbook and author of numerous published papers in professional journals on anatomical research, higher education, and international education, Dr. Christensen addressed professional conferences in the United States, Europe, Latin America and Asia, served as consultant to the United States Agency for International Development, and as a higher education consultant to the Egyptian, Nigerian, Chinese, Taiwanese and Soviet governments.

Dr. Christensen received numerous honors, including an Honorary Doctor of Science degree from Purdue University in 1978 and the Distinguished Service Award from the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. His lifelong avocation was photography and photographic art, and his black and white landscape, architectural, and other images won numerous Best of Show awards and have been exhibited at museums and galleries throughout the Midwest and at the U.S. Capitol.

Funeral arrangements are under the direction of the Adams Funeral Home and online condolences may be left to Dr. Christensen’s family at In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Iowa State University Foundation.  Click here to view a complete obituary.

Writer(s): Kevin Doerr |

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