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Ramsey, Frank

Published onOct 11, 2021
Ramsey, Frank

(June 5, 1910 – January 9, 1992)

Quick Facts

Frank Ramsey was a professor of veterinary anatomy and veterinary pathology from 1946-57, head of the department of pathology 1957-75.

Ramsey was born in Princeton, Missouri in 1910. In 1943, after traveling around the country to get his education, he came to Iowa for his doctorate and to become an internationally renowned scientist and educator in veterinary pathology. He graduated first in his class from Iowa State’s College of Veterinary Medicine (1946, now Iowa State University).

At Iowa State, Frank Ramsey was a professor of veterinary anatomy and veterinary pathology from 1946-57, served as chair of the Department of Veterinary Pathology from 1957-1975, then distinguished professor in 1975 and professor emeritus in 1980.

At Iowa State, Ramsey was able to combine the two interests he developed in high school, teaching and medicine. His first teaching job was at a North Dakota country school in the bleak 1930s. His students were German and Russian children who knew no English. Five ingredients were necessary to do the job: interest, hard work, initiative, preparation and enthusiasm. He would carry that prescription with him throughout his teaching career.

At the Veterinary College, Ramsey was known as a superb teacher and motivator. Strict, fair and demanding excellence. One of his innovations was providing fresh tissues and organs to supplement the words, pictures and diagrams previously used. He felt students needed to experience the natural color, odor, weight, volume and consistency of normal and diseased tissues if they were to be able to make accurate diagnoses. Ramsey touched the lives of an astounding number of students in his time.

Ramsey’s programs of excellence extended to the livestock industry in Iowa and abroad. His research interests were neurological disorders, neoplasms, and systemic fungal diseases of domestic animals and bovine virus diarrhea and mucosal disease. He brought research dollars into the university and exported information out. One example was a study of livestock losses caused by lightning and electricity that he conducted for the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies from 1962-1965. Another was a decade-long USDA project researching mucosal disease complex in cattle. Both his teaching and research experiences led him to become a prime mover in building the new College of Vet Med.

Ramsey’s contributions on the international front were impressive. He consulted with the international cooperation administration in Chile on diseases of domestic animals. Hew as frequently sent around the world as a consultant. The first endowed chair in veterinary medicine at Iowa State was established in his name, along with a lecture series.

In 1975, the Frank K. Ramsey Lecture Series was established. After Ramsey’s passing in 1992, the college alumni room was renamed the Frank K. Ramsey Alumni Room (1993). In 1995, the Frank K. Ramsey Endowed Chair was established. In 1996, a bronze relief was sculpted in his likeness and resides in the alumni room at the ISU College of Vet Med.

Selections of text republished with permission from Iowans who made a difference: 150 years of agricultural progress by Don Muhm and Virginia Wadsley, published by the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, 1996. 

Selected Sources

Greve, John H. and Kluge, John P. (1992) "Frank Kenneth Ramsey - A Tribute," Iowa State University Veterinarian: Vol. 54 : Iss. 1 , Article 2. Available at:

College of Veterinary Medicine articles

"Frank K. Ramsey Alumni Room Designated," Iowa State University Veterinarian: Vol. 57 : Iss. 1 , Article 10., 1995.
Available at:

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