Bernard Rollins passes at 78

Rollins credited with effecting extraordinary change across the spectrum of animal welfare.

Bernard "Bernie" Rollin, a longtime Colorado State University professor, died Friday, Nov. 19. He was 78 years old. 

Rollins was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., in 1943. He accepted a professorship at Colorado State University in 1969, where he would spend the next 51 years, retiring as University Distinguished Professor in 2020. After establishing himself as a pure philosopher in the 1970s, he shifted focus and dedicated the rest of his career to the welfare of animals in medicine, research, agriculture, and society.

He is credited with effecting extraordinary change across the spectrum of animal welfare, earning innumerable friends and enemies along the way.

Considered by many the “father of veterinary medical ethics,” he taught the first ever course on the subject, and fundamentally changed the way veterinarians are taught and how they practice. He co-wrote the 1982 federal laws that enforce humane treatment of animals in research. As a consequence, he has been described as the person “who alleviated more animal pain than anyone in history.”

Rollins published more than 20 books, some of which have been translated into Italian, Japanese, Farsi and more, hundreds of scholarly articles, and lectured thousands of times across the globe to audiences ranging from surgeons to schoolchildren, researchers to ranchers, zealots to zookeepers.


A Celebration of Life for the public will be held at a later date in the Spring. Memorial Contributions may be made to American Humane Association on behalf of Rollins and his family.

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