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In Memoriam: James Alderson

James Alderson, an animal and veterinary science professor emeritus and former director of the W.K. Kellogg Arabian Horse Center, died Dec. 14 after battling cancer.

Alderson made major contributions during his tenure at Cal Poly Pomona, where he served in a variety of capacities for nearly 20 years, said Professor Shelton Murinda, chair of the Department of Animal and Veterinary Science.

“Jim was a valued and respected colleague for many years,” Murinda said. “We will certainly miss him.”

A veterinarian, Alderson was hired by the Department of Animal and Veterinary Science at Cal Poly Pomona in 2003 to oversee the department’s fledgling animal health science program, which prepares students to become registered veterinary technicians (RVTs).

Alderson quickly made his mark, being selected for the college’s Teacher of the Year Award in 2005. He also received the 2007 Outstanding Teacher Award from the American Association of Schools and Colleges of Agriculture and Renewable Resources (AASCARR).

During his tenure, the animal health science program became the only four-year baccalaureate program on the West Coast accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Committee on Veterinary Technician Education.

Alderson then added roles as department chair in 2008 and university veterinarian in 2009. In the latter role, Alderson was responsible for animal care and use at Cal Poly Pomona, reviewing protocols, responding to issues, and serving on the campus Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee.

After serving as director of the animal health science program and later as department chair, Alderson was appointed director of the W.K. Kellogg Arabian Horse Center in 2010.

“Jim literally grew up at the Arabian Horse Center,” said Les Young, the dean of the College of Agriculture at the time. “His father was the former head trainer, so he is rooted in the legacy and the importance of the Arabian Horse Center to Cal Poly Pomona.”

One of his first priorities after being appointed was to conduct a thorough evaluation of the then nearly 40-year-old facility.

The review led to facility improvements, including repairing fences and gates, updated water piping, a new irrigation system in the paddocks, and using rubber from recycled tires to serve as stall mats and arena bark.

Alderson stepped down as center director in 2015 and continued in his teaching and university veterinarian roles at Cal Poly Pomona until entering the Faculty Early Retirement Program in 2019 and fully retiring in spring 2022.  

Prior to working at Cal Poly Pomona, Alderson had spent more than 20 years in private practice as a veterinarian, including owning and operating the Brea Canyon Animal Hospital, a small animal and equine practice.

Alderson earned his bachelor’s degree in physiology and his doctorate in veterinary medicine from UC Davis. He also earned his M.B.A. from the Graziadio Business School at Pepperdine University.

He was a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association, California Veterinary Medical Association, Southern California Veterinary Medical Association, Association of Veterinary Technician Education, and the Society of Emergency and Critical Care Veterinarians.

He is survived by his wife, Sherri Reichardt (’06, animal health science; ’15, M.S., agriculture – animal science option), a licensed RVT and former animal health technician and assistant professor in the Department of Animal and Veterinary Science, and children.

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