Gov. Phil Murphy and other state officials and veterinary medicine leaders joined the Rowan community last Friday to celebrate a $30 million gift for the state’s first veterinary school.
The gift from South Jersey businessman and staunch animal welfare advocate Gerald B. Shreiber was announced during a groundbreaking ceremony on Rowan’s West Campus in Harrison Township.
The school will be named the Shreiber School of Veterinary Medicine, a fitting tribute to the successful business leader and entrepreneur.
“Just think about it…there’s going to be a very good chance that not too far in the future, graduates of Rowan University will be providing medical care to every member of a family living in New Jersey,” Murphy said to the capacity crowd at the future home of the veterinary school adjacent to the South Jersey Tech Park of Rowan University.
“When the Shreiber School of Veterinary Medicine is added to all else that Rowan University does so well, this institution is truly living up to its motto, ‘Education, hope of the world.'”
Three medical degrees
With the addition of the veterinary school, expected to welcome its first class in 2025, Rowan will be one of only two universities in the nation to offer three medical degrees: D.V.M., D.O., and M.D. Currently, there are just 33 veterinary schools in the United States and only five on the east coast.
Shreiber’s gift, announced by Rowan President Ali A. Houshmand, is the third-largest gift to the University (and the second-largest gift from an individual).
A generous supporter of the university for more than two decades, Shreiber in 2019 pledged $3 million to establish the Shreiber Family Pet Therapy Program. Since then, the program has provided group and individualized therapy animal visits for more than 8,000 Rowan students and employees.
With Shreiber’s gift to the veterinary school, the university will have the means to offer scholarships to veterinary students, Houshmand said. The school will address an increase in demand for veterinary professionals in New Jersey and across the nation. It will help keep state residents seeking veterinary careers in New Jersey and also attract out-of-state students.
The American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges has predicted a shortage of 15,000 veterinarians in the nation within two decades.
“Gerry Shreiber’s generosity has literally changed the lives of students at Rowan University. His confidence in us over the years is both humbling and inspirational,” Houshmand said.
“Thank you, Mr. Shreiber, for your investment in Rowan, in New Jersey, in education, and in the health and welfare of animals for years to come. Your gift will be used to support scholarships, making attaining a veterinary degree more accessible and affordable. And that will happen in perpetuity.”
Affordability is an important issue for veterinary students, Shreiber School of Veterinary Medicine Founding Dean Matthew Edson said. The gift and its support of scholarships will distinguish the Shreiber School as it works to keep veterinary students in New Jersey, said Edson, who earned his D.V.M. degree from Kansas State University.
“Affordability of veterinary education is one of the big problems that we have in our industry,” Edson said. “Folks come out with a large amount of debt and that’s a struggle. We don’t want to be that program. Donations like what Mr. Shreiber has provided for us are really going to allow us to fill that gap and our students can pursue that career that they want after they graduate–and not just pursue a paycheck.”
Chairman of J&J Snack Foods Corp., Shreiber said he is pleased—and proud—to support the veterinary school.
In 1971, Shreiber, who grew up outside Atlantic City, purchased a bankrupt soft pretzel company and transformed it into a multi-billion-dollar snack food and beverage industry that has been listed on the FORBES list of “200 Best Small Companies’ seven times. The company’s brands include SUPERPRETZEL, ICEE, LUIGI’S and Minute Maid.
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