David and Jennie Hodgson have exciting plans for their retired life back in their native Australia, so they’re not looking for their $1 million estate gift to the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine to be activated soon.

But future first-generation university students with demonstrated financial need, leadership qualities, and high academic standing after the first year of veterinary school will benefit from the Hodgsons’ gift while progressing toward a veterinary degree. 

“It came about because we're very fond of Virginia Tech,” said David Hodgson, professor emeritus and former head of the Department of Large Animal Clinical Services at the veterinary college, who retired in 2018. “We were doing our wills recently, and we thought it would be worthwhile to give back to a place that’s been very good to us.”

“We have developed very fulfilling relationships at Virginia Tech,” added Jennie Hodgson, who is retiring this summer as professor of microbiology in the veterinary college’s Department of Population Health Sciences. “We thought it could be an opportunity for both of us, who have been privileged enough to obtain our veterinary degrees at relatively limited cost, to give back to the college and to help someone who is a first-generation student in the veterinary program.  We hope this could help them establish a pathway in what might be a challenging financial situation.”

 “We were doing our wills recently, and we thought it would be worthwhile to give back to a place that’s been very good to us.”

- David Hodgson

The Hodgsons have spent 16 years at Virginia Tech, arriving in 2007, following 16 years working as faculty at their alma mater, the University of Sydney. Both universities will receive scholarship funding from the Hodgson’s estate.

Before returning home to Australia in the early 1990s, they had also served at Washington State University in the 1980s.  

“Sydney to Blacksburg it is a big leap, but we’ve done it before,” Jennie Hodgson said. “We’ve done Sydney to Pullman, Washington, and then back to Sydney. Sixteen years later, we did Sydney to here, and now we’re going back to Sydney. It’s in the Australian DNA to move around.”

The Hodgsons are returning to their home in the historic town of Camden, 40 miles southwest of Sydney.  Golf and riding horses figure into their retirement plans, but Jennie Hodgson will keep a foot in the veterinary world by co-chairing the Veterinary Schools Accreditation Advisory Committee that oversees accreditation of veterinary programs in Australia and New Zealand.

Opening a wide world of possibilities is what they hope the scholarship they fund will do for future generations of veterinary students.

“A veterinary degree offers so many different job opportunities, whether it be in practice or in myriad other jobs that veterinarians undertake.  And all of these contribute in such meaningful ways to our society, which makes it a really great profession to be in,” Jennie Hodgson said. 

“It’s a fantastic profession that offers so much,” said David Hodgson. “I feel incredibly privileged to have been able to contribute in the ways that I have.”

The Hodgsons’ travel and service to veterinary medicine have not been confined to two continents. As just a small sampling of that, David Hodgson was part of the international clinical veterinary team treating horses at the Summer Olympic Games in Beijing in 2008 — he had done the same at the 2000 Games in Sydney — and Jennie Hodgson has served as visiting senior scientist or adjunct professor in multiple universities across the United Kingdom and also in Africa.

“We’ve been able to travel the world because we're veterinarians,” David Hodgson said.

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