Veterinary school names library in honor of Island vet Steven Atwood
Achieving an honor most people do not realize during their lifetime, Dr. Steven Atwood recently attended a dedication ceremony for a library named for him at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, his alma mater.
"It's really special to have something named after you while you're alive to enjoy it, not after you're dead," joked Dr. Atwood, a veterinarian at Animal Health Care Associates near the Martha's Vineyard Airport.
As a member of the university's board of the Veterinary Medical Alumni Society and board of overseers, Dr. Atwood helped raise a significant amount of money for the construction of a new teaching and research building. One donor (who wished to remain anonymous) made a sizable donation in Dr. Atwood's name in gratitude for his veterinarian services, and asked that the library in the new building be named in his honor.
Dr. Steven Atwood, second from right, stands poised to cut the ribbon to open the library commons in the new Vernon and Shirley Hill Pavilion at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. Joining him from left are Dr. Alan Kelly, dean emeritus of the veterinary school, head librarian Barbara Cavanaugh, Vernon Hill, and Shirley Hill, holding Duffy, their Yorkshire terrier, and veterinary school dean Joan Hendricks at far right.
The library occupies most of the second floor in the new 124,000-square-foot building, named the Vernon and Shirley Hill Pavilion. Vernon W. Hill II is the founder and chairman of Commerce Bancorp and his wife Shirley the founder and president of InterArch, an architecture and design firm.
Dr. Atwood said he did not realize until he talked to the university's director of information technology that the gift to the library made it possible not only to provide the latest technology in the library but throughout the building.
Amphitheaters located below the library, for example, are equipped with microphones and speakers at each seat so students can ask questions and be heard. "It was really fun to talk with the veterinary school students," Dr. Atwood said. "They are so happy to have a building that is just for them. It's really become the heart and soul of the school now."
The new facility, the first on the school's Philadelphia campus in 25 years, represents quite a change to Dr. Atwood, who attended the veterinary school from 1976 to 1980. He decided to pursue veterinary medicine after graduating from the University of Wyoming with a degree in molecular biology.
After veterinary school, he went to Yale New Haven Central for an internship and then started his veterinary career on Nantucket in 1981. He came to the Vineyard in 1985.
Dr. Atwood has served on the Massachusetts State Board of Veterinary Medicine, which regulates the entire profession across the state, since 1997. He also is a member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons of England.
Last year, Dr. Atwood received his M.D. degree from the University of Health Sciences in the British West Indies. "I did it because it complements veterinary medicine very well," he said. "I learned many things in medical school that I apply to the care of animals."
About 500 people attended the dedication ceremony, Dr. Atwood said, including his wife Sandi and their sons Jeremiah, who attends college in Ohio, and Tristan, who attends college in Colorado. Founded in 1884, the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, located in Philadelphia, is considered "the birthplace of veterinary specialties," according to a press release.