Robert Marshak, the former dean of Penn’s School of Veterinary Medicine, died on Oct. 20 at age 97.
Marshak, a bovine expert, was unanimously voted to serve as the Penn Vet's ninth dean in 1973, the Almanac reported. During his 14 years of leadership, he supervised the construction of both Penn’s small animal hospital and the C. Mahlon Kline Center for Orthopedics and Rehabilitation, the Inquirer reported.
Marshak influenced veterinary education and practices in the United States. He helped introduce several medical procedures for animals into the field, including cardiology, anesthesiology, and orthopedic surgery, the Inquirer reported. He also conducted influential research on bovine leukemia that led to the founding of the Bovine Leukemia Research Center at Penn Vet’s New Bolton Center in 1965, the Almanac reported.
Marshak graduated from the New York State Veterinary College, which is now part of Cornell, in 1945, the Almanac reported. He went on to spend 11 years in Vermont studying cattle and various bovine diseases. In 1956, he was hired by then-dean of Penn Vet Mark Allam as interim chair of the school's department of medicine. Marshak was also later named a professor of medicine.
As dean, Marshak also oversaw a five year, $4.5 million capital campaign that led to breakthroughs in cancer research and reproductive physiology, the Almanac reported. In 2016, the Robert Marshak-Vernon Hill scholarship was established to fund VMD-MBA studies at Penn Vet and Wharton.
Cornell Dean emeritus Donald Smith described Marshak as “perhaps the most influential dean of the second half of the 20th century,” the Inquirer reported. Dean of Penn Vet Andrew M. Hoffman similarly told the Almanac Marshak was “unquestionably the ‘Father of Veterinary Clinic Specialties.’”
Marshak is survived by his wife, his three sons, a grandchild, and his stepson.
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