Chicago Presence

“The College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Illinois gave me a foundation I could build on and become the veterinarian that I am today.”

the chicago riverStep into the office of Dr. Sheldon Rubin, director of Blum Animal Hospital in Chicago, and you’ll quickly see that his loyalties lie with Illinois. Illini memorabilia – calendars, Alumni Association decals, stickers -  decorate the room. Although he is now an established veterinarian whose client list includes Oprah Winfrey, Dr. Rubin has never forgotten his Alma Mater, the institution that launched his career.

“I felt that my education was outstanding,” Rubin says. “I always wanted to be a vet, and I took my education very seriously, because I wanted to be the best I could possibly be. The College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Illinois gave me a foundation I could build on and become the veterinarian that I am today.”

oprah winfreyAccording to the American Veterinary Medical Association, the University of Illinois provides far more veterinarians to Chicago than any other educational institution. Dr. Rubin attributes this fact to the quality of education students receive at Illinois.

The University of Illinois has a proud history of sending well prepared alumni back to Chicago, as well as creating programs that affect the “Windy City.” While the university is two hours south in Urbana, its presence can be felt in Chicago through the College of Veterinary Medicine and many other innovative programs, such as 4-H.

dr. sheldon rubin4-H is run by the University of Illinois Extension. Started in 1914, 4-H focused on agriculture and taught children the best methods for corn production in its early years. However, the program evolved with the country, and today 4-H is fully adapted to metro life. According to Assistant Dean Penelope Crinion, more than half of all 4-H members in Illinois are from urban areas, and membership in Cook County has grown by 6,000 people since 2005.

“The program has adapted well to metro life,” Crinion says. “When you’re in a community surrounded by diversity and lots of people, you’ve got to know how to interact with lots of different backgrounds. We now have over 100 different 4-H projects that are of interest to both rural use and urban use.”

As Chicago continues to expand in size and cultural importance for the Midwest, the University of Illinois will continue to influence that expansion with people and programs that help shape the city into a better and more unique place to live.

Oprah Winfrey, pet owner

Although Dr. Sheldon Rubin has many clients, one client stands out—Oprah Winfrey. Many years ago, several of Oprah’s dogs had a problem that other vets had failed to diagnose. Dr. Rubin was able to quickly diagnose and successfully treat it.

“She was very thankful and appreciative,” he says. “She’s an outstanding client. As busy as her life is, her animals are really number one. And regardless of what she’s doing, she’ll always take time to do what’s appropriate to take care of them.”

For the past nine or 10 years, Dr. Rubin has taken care of Oprah’s two cocker spaniels, Sophie and Solomon, and has had the opportunity to appear on both the Oprah Winfrey Show and Oprah After the Show.

“I’ve been on her show a few times, and it’s quite a thrill,” he said.