Founding member of the LSU Veterinary School faculty has passed away

Robert Lank

For Immediate Release:  May 4, 2017



BATON ROUGE—Dr. Robert B. (Bob) Lank passed away Sunday, April 16, 2017. Dr. Lank joined the faculty of the LSU SVM on November 1, 1968, as one of our first faculty members (the first class was accepted in 1973). Dr. Lank was instrumental in forming the LSU SVM and is both professor emeritus of veterinary science and head emeritus of the Department of Veterinary Science. He served as an associate dean from 1968-1977.


“Dr. Lank was such a gracious man and was a giant in the field of veterinary medicine at LSU,” said Michael Groves, DVM, MPH, PhD, DACVM, DACVPM, dean emeritus of the LSU SVM. “Without Dr. Lank and Dean Everett Besch, LSU wouldn’t even have a vet school. The LSU SVM owes a lot to him.”


Bob was born on July 1, 1919 in Kansas City, Missouri and grew up on a dairy farm in Pittsburg, Kansas. He received his BS and DVM degrees from Kansas State and an MS degree from Iowa State. He practiced veterinary medicine in Ferriday and Bastrop, Louisiana, before joining the LSU Faculty in 1948 as an Assistant Professor doing clinical work on University owned animals. He retired as Emeritus Professor, Department Head and Associate Dean of the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine. As Associate Dean he played a major role in the design, planning, building and recruiting of the faculty for the school, which received its full accreditation before graduation of the first class.


Bob was a Captain in the Army Air Corp during World War II. He served as President of the Louisiana Veterinary Medical Association, Kansas State Veterinary Alumni Association, East Baton Rouge Cattleman's Association and the Baton Rouge Kiwanis Foundation. He was very active in the American Veterinary Medical Association serving as a Louisiana delegate for many years. He was elected to the AVMA Council on Education, official accrediting agency of the profession, for 10 years and served as chairman for 2 years. He was named Louisiana Veterinarian of the year in 1962, LSU Veterinary Alumni Award of Merit in 1983, and received the Presidential Certificate of Appreciation and Meritorious Service Award from the Selective Service Advisory Committee. He served as chairman of the EBR Mosquito Abatement and Rodent Control Board, was an active member of the Downtown Kiwanis Club, a member of the Red Stick Forestry Association, Louisiana Pecan Growers Association and University United Methodist Church. He also served on the LSU Boyd Professor Review Committee.


He is survived by his wife of 70 years, June Elaine Light Lank; son Robert B. Jr and wife Evalyn, daughter Judy Mae Lank and husband Dr. Randy Lofton; 5 grandchildren: June Elizabeth Lank Williamson and husband Steve, Janette Mae Lank Jackson and husband Todd, Brett Hampton Lofton, Lindsay Lofton Lang and husband Thad, and Laura Elaine Lofton. He is also survived by 6 great grandchildren: Rob and Georgia Bedell Williamson, Liza and Charlie Jackson and Charlotte and Eloise Lang; a sister-in-law, Vonceil Hill Lank. He was preceded in death by his parents William John and Blanche Burton Lank and his brothers William J. Jr and Edwin Riley.


Martha Littlefield, DVM (LSU SVM 1982), assistant professor in Comparative Biomedical Sciences, interviewed Dr. Lank for the Louisiana Veterinary Medical Association in 2011. “Dr. Lank participated in detailed planning, organization and staffing of the expanded Veterinary Science Research Facilities. He saw in the future the need for a veterinary school in Louisiana and chaired the LVMA Veterinary School Committee to convince the State Legislature to establish the LSU SVM.  Appointed the Associate Dean of the SVM in November 1968, he played a major role in planning, organizing and establishing the school program, while continuing his job as Head of Veterinary Science.  This included being chairman of the campus-wide committee on the use of humans and animals as research subjects.  Importantly, he played a major role on the AVMA Council on Education and chairman of its sub-committee on evaluation of schools to make sure that LSU SVM received Full Accreditation before graduating its first class. Throughout his career, Dr. Lank has been a true public servant, active in the local, state and national veterinary medical associations.  He contributed greatly to the establishment of veterinary technician programs, as well as establishing the research foundation for the university. Upon retirement in August 1977, Dr. Lank became an active cattleman and forester—pecans and later pine trees.” 


“I met Dr. Lank soon after I came to LSU as a young faculty member in the School of Veterinary Medicine in 1975,” said Thomas Klei, PhD, emeritus Boyd professor. “He was Head of the Veterinary Science department in the Agricultural Center. Through his efforts and those of Roland Dommert the Head of Veterinary Microbiology and Parasitology in the SVM I was given a split appointment in the two campuses.  This type of arrangement was not uncommon and was beneficial to the growth of both departments and their faculty.  Under Dr. Lank’s leadership VS was one of the most research productive departments in the Ag Center with a broad focus on livestock disease. His impact on veterinary medicine and animal health extended from the University throughout the state and nation.  His actions were diverse and he can be seen as one of the veterinarians attending to Mike the Tigers (Mike III) broken legs in the book published on Mike.  Bob Lank was a gentleman and a scholar. He will be fondly remembered by those who knew and worked with him.”


The LSU School of Veterinary Medicine is one of only 30 veterinary schools in the U.S. and the only one in Louisiana. We are a community dedicated to improving the lives of people and animals through education, service and research. We teach. We heal. We discover. We protect.


Photo: John Rhoades, DVM, retired associate dean (left), and Robert Lank DVM, at the retirement reception for Dean Emeritus Peter Haynes in 2014.


Media Contact                                                                                                                                                                                    

Ginger Guttner, APR      

Communications Manager  

LSU School of Veterinary Medicine     

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