University of Florida veterinary professor leaves legacy of giving

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University of Florida veterinary professor leaves legacy of giving

Paul Nicoletti, long-time teacher and public health expert, considered ‘tireless advocate’ for animal health and veterinary students.
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Feb 10, 2016
By dvm360.com staff

Dr. Paul NicolettiPaul Nicoletti, DVM, MS, a professor emeritus of infectious diseases at the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine and renowned public health expert, died Jan. 31. He was 83.

“The college has lost a great friend and a tireless advocate,” says James W. Lloyd, DVM, PhD, dean of the UF veterinary college. “His professional expertise was surpassed only by his kindness, generosity and mentorship to students and colleagues alike. We will miss him greatly.”

Nicoletti graduated from the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine in 1956 and received a master of science degree from the University of Wisconsin in 1962, beginning his career with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). He went on to serve as an epizootiologist in Tehran, Iran, from 1968-1972 with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United States.

His most lasting contributions were to Florida agriculture and the University of Florida, according to a release from the university. While with the USDA, Nicoletti improved the procedures used to control brucellosis. An internationally renowned authority on the disease, his efforts led to the eradication of brucellosis in Florida. This accomplishment also led to a donation from Bob and Evelyn Deriso, who willed $1.3 million to honor Nicoletti. The gift to the University of Florida resulted in Deriso Hall, which houses the offices of food animal reproduction and medicine faculty and in which a room is dedicated in Nicoletti’s name.

After decades as a professor at UF and retiring from his post in 2003, Nicoletti began his own endowments to benefit the veterinary students at the university. “I was not the best-paid person in my department when I was on the faculty at UF but have managed well and feel like giving back is important,” Nicoletti once said, according to the release.

Inspired by his own humble beginnings and a $150 scholarship from Sears-Roebuck and Co. in his youth, Nicoletti created a scholarship in 2003 to be awarded to a junior or senior UF veterinary medical student with financial need and who aspired to a career in public health. He also endowed a second scholarship for students interested in food, animal medicine and reproduction, which has now awarded more than a dozen scholarships.

Further inspired by former UF President Bernie Machen’s commitment to enroll first-generation college students, Nicoletti pledged $1 million to establish the graduate-level Nicoletti Florida Opportunity Scholarship to benefit veterinary medical students who are the first in their family to attend college. Finally, just last year, Nicoletti established a challenge grant of $100,000 to support the UF Veterinary Access Scholarship, which aims to offset veterinary student debt load by eventually awarding $5 million in scholarships annually. Within months, his challenge had been met.

Those who wish may make memorials, may send them to Office of Development, UF College of Veterinary Medicine, P.O. Box 100125, Gainesville, Florida 32610-00125 or www.uff.ufl.edu/appeals/nicoletti.