Dr. Terrence M. Curtin

Who is Dr. Terrence Curtin? Why is the road to the Teaching Animal Unit (TAU) named for Dr. Curtin?

Dr. Terrence Michael Curtin came to N.C. State in 1973 to start the veterinary school's forerunner, the veterinary science department in the School of Agriculture and Life Sciences. On February 1, 1979, he began his appointment as the first dean of the new N.C. State School of Veterinary Medicine. Six days later, ground-breaking ceremonies were celebrated next to the Dairy Pavilion.

photo of Terrence M. Curtin
Photo of Dr. Terrence M. Curtin courtesy of the College of Veterinary Medicine, NCSU.

Dr. Terrence M. Curtin is a native of Spencer, South Dakota. He served in the Army from 1943-46. He holds the degrees of B.S. and Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from the University of Minnesota and a M.S. and Ph.D from Purdue University. He was professor and chairman of veterinary physiology and pharmacology at the University of Missouri.

Soon after his appointment, The News & Observer designated him Tar Heel of the Week. Dr. Curtin partnered with the North Carolina Veterinary Medical Association many times and was recognized for his efforts. In 1980, he was the inaugural recipient of the Martin Litwack Award. [View photo from North Carolina Veterinarian] This was the first time that the award was presented. It was to be presented annually to the veterinarian who has contributed greatly to the School of Veterinary Medicine at NCSU and to the veterinary medical profession in North Carolina. The award was established in memory of the late Dr. Martin Litwack, a Raleigh veterinarian, who gave so much of his time and talents to the efforts that led to the building of the school.

In 1983, Dr. Curtin was named Veterinarian of the Year [Read remarks from North Carolina Veterinarian]. The presentation was made by Dr. Earl Hightower of Jefferson at the 88th Annual Meeting. The VOY Award is given in those years that a veterinarian has done a particularly outstanding job in rendering service to the profession. [View photo from North Carolina Veterinarian]

In making the presentation, Dr. Hightower stated that he would prefer to describe the kind of a man chosen for the award rather than his accomplishments. He stated that Dr. Curtin exemplified the Boy Scout Laws-- Courteous, Kind, Trustworthy, Honest, etc. His hard work and perseverance were likened to the philosophy expressed in the poem "KEEP A-GOIN" by Frank Stanton. Dr. Curtin gave a full measure of dedication to his work and profession this year---it resulted in the formal dedication of the School of Veterinary Medicine on April 20, 1983.

Dr. Curtin served as president of the American Association of Veterinary Colleges for 1989. In 1990, he was presented the Distinguished Veterinarian of the Year Award, the highest honor of the North Carolina Veterinary Medical Association, during the Annual Meeting awards banquet June 23, 1990.

"Terry Curtin is one of the veterinarians in North Carolina who has made a difference in veterinary medicine, and that difference will be felt for decades to come," said Dr. Joe Kinnarney, immediate past president of NCVMA. "This award recognizes his leadership not only in the College of Veterinary Medicine but in the state of North Carolina and the nation."

With this honor, Curtin joined a select group of North Carolina veterinarians to have received all three of the NCVMA's top awards. Dr. Curtin retired as dean from N.C State's College of Veterinary Medicine in February 1992. He continued as Professor Emeritus in the Department of Molecular Biomedical Sciences, represented the college and the North Carolina Veterinary Medical Association at many public service and advocacy events.

In the past few years he has written 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, both of which are in the NCSU Libraries.

The road leading to the Teaching Animal Unit has been named for Dr. Curtin in honor of his efforts to ensure a teaching environment and program in which students could handle and observe small scale productions of beef, sheep, goats, dairy, poultry, horses, and other food animal and large animal species. As he said, "It always impressed me that unless students became comfortable with handling a species of animal before graduation, the probability of their providing service to that species after graduation was minimal." Photo highlights of Dr. Curtin's career and the early Teaching Animal Unit appear on this poster of Dr. Curtin's journey.


  • North Carolina Veterinarian, Vol. 25, No. 2, 3rd Quarter 1980, p.19.
  • North Carolina Veterinarian, Vol. 28, No. 7, July 1983, p.2.
  • North Carolina Veterinarian, Vol. 5, No. 4, Autumn 1990, p. 13.
  • Munger, Guy. Caring for North Carolina's Animal Kingdom: The Tar Heel of the Week. News & Observer, 1984
  • College of Veterinary Medicine, Office of the Dean Records, 1968-2010. UA # 145.001, University Archives, North Carolina State University Libraries, Raleigh, North Carolina.