Posted: June 7, 2021

The seven-figure gift is the first major gift supporting the facility.

The motivation to make a philanthropic gift to an organization is different for every donor, but in many cases, it boils down to the desire to make a positive impact. This rings true for Dr. Fred Metzger, Jr. and his wife, Megan, who have made the first major gift to support the new Animal, Veterinary, and Biomedical Sciences Building. The seven-figure gift to name the general purpose classroom in the facility will provide funding for the departments of Animal Science and Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences to support the state-of-the-art facility expected to open in the fall of 2021.

“Dr. Metzger has been a steadfast supporter of undergraduate education and his family’s thoughtful gift and kind gesture further attest to his unwavering support of the mission of the department,” said Sandeep Prabhu, head of the Department of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences and professor of immunology and molecular toxicology. “This gift is instrumental in providing future opportunities for our students and faculty to connect and build lasting relationships through a collective interest in human and animal health. Dr. Metzger’s gift is the keystone to the building, as the space was envisioned and created to be a meeting place of constituents, including student clubs, classes, and information sessions.”

Adele Turzillo, professor and head of the Department of Animal Science, echoed these sentiments, saying, “We are truly thankful for Dr. Metzger’s gift to name the classroom in our new AVBS Building and for his long-term support of our students, faculty and staff. This building will enable outstanding research, facilitate collaboration and promote the development of future leaders in the fields of animal, veterinary and biomedical sciences. We look forward to the opportunities that this facility and the support from alumni and friends, like Dr. Metzger, will provide for all who will call AVBS home, now and for decades to come.”

 

Metzger, who graduated from Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences in 1981 with a degree in Animal Bioscience, is a State College native with a long family history in the surrounding area, as well as at Penn State. His grandfather, L.K. Metzger was a 1917 Agricultural Biochemistry graduate. After earning his undergraduate degree, Fred Metzger attended veterinary school at Purdue University before returning home to begin his career.

In 1992 he opened his own practice, now known as the VCA Metzger Animal Hospital after he sold it in 2018, where he continues to work and consult for the corporate owner. Metzger, who was recognized in 2016 as an outstanding alumnus of the College of Agricultural Sciences, serves as an adjunct professor.

According to Metzger, his path to become a veterinarian was unorthodox. He did not grow up dreaming of becoming a veterinarian, but once he started the journey during his undergraduate years he was hooked. While the path was anything but easy, hard work and the positive influence of several people, including Lester Griel, Christine Rossiter, John Kavanaugh, Harold Harpster and Michael Ondik, among many others, ensured Metzger achieved his goals.

During his undergraduate career, Metzger attended numerous classes in the Henning Building, the predecessor to the new AVBS Building. When he saw the plans for the new building, he immediately knew he wanted to help.

“It’s not about putting our name on a room,” said Metzger. “I wanted to do something that would bring the whole building together. There are going to be so many great researchers in this building. I see them all coming together in this room. I see the Pre-Vet Club having meetings there, and I see prospective students and their families coming to that room and being inspired by the state-of-the-art facility.”

Metzger is also excited about this opportunity because of one of the major challenges facing the veterinary profession.

“Veterinary medicine has a huge supply problem — there simply aren’t enough veterinarians,” said Metzger. “There are only 34 veterinary schools in the U.S., and they graduate small classes. When my age group starts retiring, there is going to be a tremendous workload left behind. Pets are an extremely important part of our society. I’m hoping this gift will help recruit great students and motivate them to pursue degrees in these fields. You don’t just have to be a vet. You can be a technician or a nurse, or you can enter into industries such as animal pharmaceuticals.”

Metzger credits both Penn State and Purdue for the role each institution played in getting him to where he is today, the connections he was able to make, and the career and opportunities he has had. For him, this gift is just one step in the story of the building.

“I hope this gift is that pebble in the pond that makes bigger and bigger ripples,” said Metzger.

By ripples, Metzger is referring to his hope that others will consider naming rooms, creating scholarships, supporting faculty, or contributing in myriad other ways. He wants the AVBS Building to be an inspiring place for the faculty and future students who will call it home, and he is looking forward to seeing the impact this gift and this building will have on Animal Science and on Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences.

“My thoughts are if Penn State has been good to you, be good to Penn State. Don’t wait to make a gift. The sooner you make a gift, the greater the impact it will have. I’m excited to see the positive impact of this gift and this building on the future of these two programs.”

The Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences represents the foundation of Penn State and its land-grant mission to serve the public good. To fulfill that mission for a new era of rapid change and global connections, the University is pursuing "A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence," a fast-paced campaign focused on the three key imperatives of a twenty-first-century public university: Open Doors, Create Transformative Experiences, and Impact the World. Through teaching, research, and Extension, and because of generous alumni and friends, the College of Agricultural Sciences is able to offer scholarships to one in four students, create life-shaping opportunities, and make a difference in the world by fueling discovery, innovation, and entrepreneurship. To learn more about supporting the college, visit http://agsci.psu.edu/giving. Information about the campaign is available at greaterpennstate.psu.edu.

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