They became longtime friends in school. They’ve dedicated their lives to animal welfare. And both have lost golden retrievers to cancer.
Friday, Sophie Craighead and Nan Stuart will share another milestone as recipients of Honorary Degrees from the Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. They will receive degrees as part of the Graduate School ceremonies at 3 p.m. in Moby Arena.
“We are honored to bestow Honorary Degrees upon these remarkable women who individually have contributed enormously to the health and welfare of companion animals – research that translates directly into helping people,” said President Tony Frank. “Their extraordinary personal contributions to the university’s Flint Animal Cancer Center have enhanced educational opportunities for many students who have gone on to successful careers in animal medicine.”
The Stuart family is the largest supporter of the Animal Cancer Center, including establishment of the first Presidential Chair in oncology and support for the development of surgical teaching models for veterinary students. Stuart is receiving the honor five years to the day after her father, the late Hadley Stuart, received an Honorary Degree from CSU.
Craighead’s support of the Animal Cancer Center helped establish the Stephen J. Withrow Presidential Chair in Oncology and the first Cancer Biology Ph.D. program at the university. Her dedication to cancer research only intensified when she was diagnosed with leukemia, and she heard the news that her own bone marrow transplant was developed and perfected treating dogs with cancer.
“It has been an honor to know both Nan and Sophie as a clinical veterinarian when their pets needed care for cancer and as visionary supporters of a cure for cancer in all species. They get ‘it’ as defined by their vision, integrity and passion,” Withrow said. “Their friendship and philanthropy have elevated the Animal Cancer Center at CSU to the premier program of its kind in the world. It is a deep honor to call them friends and now colleagues.”
“With Sophie and Nan’s help and influence, we have created enhanced teaching with graduate programs in cancer biology, deepened translational research between people and pets, expanded physical space and equipment, added faculty positions and continued a curing and caring philosophy of operations,” said Dr. Mark Stetter, Dean of the College. “We are grateful for their incredible generosity.”
The Stuart family established Kari’s Fund in 2007, a fund dedicated to supporting the heart and soul of the Flint Animal Cancer Center and its operations. Solidifying the operations means the team can focus on the important work such as finding new diagnostics and treatments to help other cancer survivors like Kari, their golden retriever who was diagnosed with hemangiosarcoma, a cancer occurring in her blood vessels. She was given only days or weeks to live, but a team of CSU oncologists proposed a new chemotherapy treatment that extended Kari’s life by several months.
An animal welfare officer, Nan Stuart advocated for and protected neglected, abused, abandoned, and relinquished companion animals. She teaches animal control and abuse workshops throughout the United States and founded Code 3 with her husband, Eric, to provide training for first-responders and emergency assistance to pets and livestock affected by natural disasters.
Craighead has served as a civic servant on the board of more than two dozen organizations. She has connected with many members throughout the community and has the capability to influence many with her dedication to animal welfare, human well-being and environmental conservation.
Much of Craighead’s time has been dedicated to supporting Pet Partners, formerly the Delta Society, which promotes healthier, happier lives by connecting people with therapy, service and companion pets. She is a founding board member and Chairperson Emeritus for the Delta Society/Pet Partners. To connect the organization with her community, she founded Teton County PAL (People-Animal-Love), which provides patients, nursing home residents, and other community members with opportunities to bond with volunteers and their pets.