Pamela Carroll von Matthiessen ’66
B.A., Denison University
M.S., Florida State University
D.V.M., University of California, Davis
M.D., Wright State University
Citation awarded on Saturday, June 4, 2016
The liberal arts education at Denison provided a diversity and depth of knowledge that gave Pam the courage to change direction several times over her lifetime. Graduating with a degree in biology, she pursued a career in genetics, inspired by one of her professors in her senior year. She would eventually earn a Master’s degree in molecular genetics.
But she graduated in the 1960s. President Kennedy had urged young people to make a difference, to serve humanity, and Pam decided the Peace Corps was where she needed to focus her energy and attention. She served at a teachers training college in Western Samoa for two years. During that time she also taught at the Samoan Veterinary College, discovering that she enjoyed clinical science even more than bench research.
In 1972, she entered the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of California/Davis and went on to do a residency in equine surgery at Washington State University. Specializing in equine orthopedics, she operated on high performance horses, trained veterinary students in surgery and pursued novel research projects in equine surgery. One project, in which she collaborated with human and veterinary surgeons, involved the development of a unique procedure that stabilized the spine of equine “wobblers,” horses with cervical spinal cord compression. Today it is considered to be a standard protocol in both human and veterinary surgery.
In 1989, Tufts School of Veterinary Medicine invited Pam to become Chief of Staff of the Large Animal Hospital, the first woman to hold this position in veterinary medicine. Later she returned to Oregon State University as Assistant Dean of the Veterinary College. Many of the students and residents that Pam mentored are now in leadership positions in private practices and academia.
Working with animals and medicine for more than 15 years left her wishing, at times, that she could do as much for the people who accompanied their horses to the clinic as she did for her patients. So, at the age of 50, she embarked on a new career and enrolled in medical school at Wright State University. After residency in Internal Medicine, she practiced in rural Colorado for 11 years before returning to Ohio where she now works in Yellow Springs.
She and her husband, Malte, met on safari in Tanzania where he had been a Peace Corps volunteer in the 1960s. They continue to live in Yellow Springs, where Malte chairs the Board of Trustees for Antioch College, his alma mater.