Comedian Betty White named honorary WSU alumna

Warwick Bayly presents Betty White with a white doctor's coat.
WSU Provost Warwick Bayly with actor, comedian and animal advocate Betty White. Photo courtesy of the WSVMA.

PULLMAN, Wash. – Legendary actor and comedian Betty White became an honorary Washington State University alumna on Oct. 8.

WSU Provost Warwick Bayly presented White, 89, with the enduring symbol of the profession — a white doctor’s coat — at the Washington State Veterinary Medical Association’s (WSVMA) centennial gala in Yakima.

The six-time Emmy Award winner paused, truly touched, but quickly regained her composure and demanded the microphone back from Bayly.

“So now that I have this white coat, if any of you would like to be spayed or neutered, I’m available,” she told the 400‑plus attendees. The comment brought the audience to its feet for a standing ovation that concluded the evening.

Longtime supporter

White has a long-standing relationship with the WSU College of Veterinary Medicine thanks to an introduction by Cougar veterinary alumnus Bob Olds ‘67. Olds practiced for decades in Southern California and White was his client for many years.

She first came to WSU in the early 1990s when the college was forming courses in alternatives to live animal surgery. White became a donor to the college and, in 1992, served on the founding steering committee for WSU’s endowed Center for the Study of Animal Well‑being. She returned as a guest at the college’s centennial gala in 1999.

At the gala, White also was presented with an honorary life membership in the WSVMA. The group’s centennial coincided with the sestercentennial (250th year) of the beginning of veterinary education in Lyon, France.

Text of the plaque

The text on the plaque presented to White reads:

The Washington State University Alumni Association and the WSU College of Veterinary Medicine are proud to bestow upon you the prestigious Honorary Alumna Award. You have entertained generations of adoring fans, and the awards and recognition you have received throughout your career reflect the impact you have had across the entertainment spectrum.

Your body of work in the entertainment industry is perhaps only eclipsed by your devotion to the health and well‑being of animals and the people who serve them. Veterinarians and their essential work have benefitted greatly from your steadfast support.

Today we salute your unwavering dedication to your craft, to animals and to the veterinary profession, and we welcome you as an Honorary Alumna of the Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine.

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