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Academic Health Center Oral History Project

Jessen, Carl

Carl Jessen completed a pre-vet program at the University of Minnesota and earned his DVM in 1956. After spending some time in private practice, he decided to pursue his Ph.D. at the University of Minnesota. Jessen completed his Ph.D. in qualitative genetics and radiology in 1969 and took a position at the College of Veterinary Medicine in the Department of Surgery and Radiology. In the late 1970s, Jessen became Associate Dean of Planning and Vet Services for twenty years and served as director of the hospital for twelve years. He continues to be a member of the faculty.

Interview Abstract

Carl Jessen begins his interview by discussing his upbringing, his interest in veterinary medicine, and his education. He follows this with his entrance into private practice and then his return to school for a Ph.D. in qualitative genetics and radiology. He then reflects on changes in the department over the period when he first entered the DVM program, to his reentrance for a Ph.D. and subsequent hiring as a faculty member, and then makes a modern comparison. Within his reflection on the school, Jessen discusses budgetary problems in the teaching hospital, the push for the faculty to get a constitution and faculty council, the relationship between the School and the legislature in terms of funding, and the growth of the profession. Within his own career, Jessen shares his philosophy on the balance of research, teaching, and clinical work. In terms of the land grant mission of the University, he also considers relationships between the Vet School and out-of-state students and between the School and the community. Reviewing the history of the school under Dean Sidney Ewing, Jessen relates the effects of changes in the structure of the school and the school's loss of accreditation in the mid 1970s. Pursuant with these changes in the mid 1970s, he also relates changes in the profession and the school that led to an increase in the number of female students. He then speaks to relations with the University of Wisconsin, his duties as associate dean and director of the hospital, Robert Dunlop's tenure as dean, budget problems and the hospital business model, the School's emphasis on teaching over research, the integration of the Vet School into the AHC, the deanships of Jeff Kausner and David Thawley, and the connection between the Vet School and the legislature through animal industries. He ends the interview by again emphasizing the teaching mission of the School.

Biographical Sketch

Carl Jessen was born in 1933 in Fairmont, Minnesota and raised in South Branch, Minnesota. Interested in avoiding working on an assembly line, Jessen pursued veterinary school at the prompting of his father. He completed a pre-vet program at the University of Minnesota and earned his DVM in 1956. Following he matriculation, Jessen worked in private practice from 1957 through 1963. He then decided to pursue his Ph.D. also at the University of Minnesota because he "wanted to do something a little more scientific." Jessen completed his Ph.D. in qualitative genetics and radiology in 1969 and took a position at the College of Veterinary Medicine in the Department of Surgery and Radiology. In the late 1970s, Jessen became Associate Dean of Planning and Vet Services for twenty years and served as director of the hospital for twelve years. He continues to be a member of the faculty.

Interview Transcript
CJessen.pdf