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University of Illinois Introduces New Scholarship to Expand Access to Veterinary Profession

The College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Illinois on a clear, spring day.

The Hadley Family DOVE Scholarship will be granted to students from underrepresented populations and those who have shown a commitment to advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion.

University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine today announced a new $500,000 scholarship to help advance diversity within the veterinary profession. The Hadley Family DOVE (Diversifying Opportunity in Veterinary Education) Scholarship is generously provided by Dr. Stephen and Mrs. Denyse Hadley and their six children.

“We are grateful to the Hadley family for making this significant gift that will benefit all our students,” said Dr. Peter Constable, dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine. “With the partnership of donors, we can recruit and support a more diverse student body, one that will enrich the educational experience for all at Illinois. It is also vitally important to the ongoing success of the veterinary profession to become more representative of the society we serve.”

Dr. Stephen Hadley

“Genuine care of people and pets is at the core of the veterinary profession, and that’s what makes it so unique. I would love veterinary practices to better represent the diverse communities we serve and embrace the uniqueness of one another for the future of veterinary medicine,” said Dr. Hadley, a 1987 graduate of the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine.

“My family and I wanted to put care into action and start removing the systemic barriers that have been preventing the access to the veterinary profession for decades. It is our common responsibility as the leaders to make a difference that will lead to greater equity and diversity within the profession.”

Veterinary colleges are actively seeking to enroll a student body that is more reflective of society as a whole. According to data collected by the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges, the proportion of U.S. veterinary students who are from underrepresented backgrounds has grown from below 5% in 1980 to above 20% in 2020.  

“Despite these efforts, the veterinary profession remains one of the least diverse professions in the U.S.,” said Sean C. Garrick, vice chancellor for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. “By increasing access to the world-class education and training at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine, the Hadley Family DOVE Scholarship will significantly transform the lives of our students and the field of veterinary medicine itself.”

“We are eternally grateful to the Hadley family for their generosity and dedication to promoting diversity in veterinary medicine,” noted Dr. Yvette Johnson-Walker, a faculty member at the veterinary college who also serves as the college’s coordinator of diversity and inclusion. She worked with Dr. Hadley as they were planning the scholarship.

“It is particularly rewarding to see the impetus for change coming from within our own profession,” Dr. Johnson-Walker said. “The Hadley Family DOVE Scholarship is a shining example of veterinarians taking the initiative to invest in the future of veterinary medicine by recognizing the value of having a diverse and inclusive profession. We are looking forward to opportunities to collaborate with veterinary professionals and corporations to enhance our efforts to diversify the profession.”

Dr. Hadley grew up in a small agricultural community near Champaign-Urbana. This early experience has formed his passion for animals and genuine love of people. After decades in the veterinary profession, Dr. Hadley currently serves as the chief executive officer of Pathway Vet Alliance, a veterinary management group serving pets and their parents throughout the U.S. In addition to his veterinary degree, he also holds a master’s degree in veterinary pathobiology from the University of Illinois and an MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. The Hadley family has a long history of philanthropic support. In 2005, they established their first endowment at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine. This scholarship was established to encourage veterinary students to serve people and communities in developing countries.