ASVCP Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient, Maxine Benjamin - December, 2006
Fifty eight years ago, in 1948, Dr. Benjamin began her career as an assistant professor of veterinary clinical pathology at Colorado State University. She was a central figure in academic clinical pathology for many years. Her "green book" Outline of Veterinary Clinical Pathology, published in 1958, 1961, and 1978 in English, Spanish, and Japanese, became the primary veterinary clinical pathology text for veterinary students and veterinarians around the world. This text was one of the original guides not only for veterinary students, but also aspirants to American College of Veterinary Pathologists’ certification.
She taught clinical pathology at Colorado State University for 30 years, and her successes as a teacher are legend. She won every award given for teaching by the College and the University, including a "Top Prof" award in 1966, which named her as the outstanding teacher at Colorado State University, the Oliver Pennock Award for Outstanding Teaching in 1965, and the Norden Distinguished Teacher Award in 1977. She was an invited participant at more than 100 professional meetings, seminars, workshops, and short courses. She was instrumental in developing guidelines for fluid and electrolyte therapy in animals, and provided continuing education on this topic at national veterinary conventions. In her usual modest way, she downplayed the importance of this contribution by saying "In the land of the blind, the one-eyed woman was queen". Her veterinary and graduate students adored and respected her, and she left her impact on many. She also taught at the University of Nairobi, Kenya from 1968 to 1969, and at Cornell University in 1967, and she came out of retirement in 1987 to teach clinical pathology for one year at Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine at St. Kitts, West Indies. She was instrumental in establishing the importance of clinical pathology at Ross, and is still spoken of with reverence at that University. Maxine has stated that she did her very best teaching there.
In 1973, she was selected as the "Outstanding Woman Veterinarian", and in 1978 was given honorary membership in the American College of Veterinary Pathologists, the same year that she was named as Colorado Veterinary Medical Association Veterinarian of the Year, American Animal Hospital Association Veterinarian of the Year, and named as an Old Master by Purdue University. She was one of 20 veterinarians featured in the book Women in Veterinary Medicine - Profiles of Success authored by Drs. Sue Drum and H. Ellen Whiteley, published in 1991. This book is another avenue by which she continues to serve as a role model, as it was awarded a "First Choice Selection for Teenagers" by the New York Library System.
In summary, Dr. Benjamin is one of the true pioneers whose vision and enthusiasm for veterinary clinical pathology has been instrumental in making the specialty what it is today. She was one of the 13 Charter members of the American Society for Veterinary Clinical Pathology and served as the first Secretary-Treasurer of our organization from 1965 to 1966. In 1967, almost forty years ago, she published in Volume 1 of Vet Clin Path ; the paper was titled "The hemogram of canine malignant lymphoma."