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Texas A&M Professor Is First American Elected WVA President

Posted August 02, 2005

Texas A&M Professor Is First American Elected WVA President

COLLEGE STATION - August 2, 2005 - Dr. Leon Russell, a professor at Texas A&M University's College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, became the first American elected president of the World Veterinary Association (WVA) during the 28th World Veterinary Congress held in Minneapolis, MN, July 16-20.

Over the next three years, Russell, whose candidacy was endorsed by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), will head the world's oldest international professional veterinary organization, comprised of almost a hundred member countries. The WVA works closely with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), World Health Organization (WHO) and similar organizations on matters of food safety, food security, antimicrobial resistance, animal welfare and zoonotic diseases.

"A visionary leader and authority in both veterinary medicine and food safety, Dr. Russell is an extraordinary ambassador for organized veterinary medicine at the international level," said Dr. Bonnie Beaver, immediate past president of the AVMA and veterinary professor at Texas A&M.

Following the election Russell said, "To be a great organization, the WVA must be the best in the world in at least one important veterinary activity, and must develop better team work to increase our effectiveness throughout the world."

Two areas that Russell would like the WVA to be considered "best in the world" are food safety and zoonotic disease control. "The WVA should be the primary authoritative source of advice for international organizations such as the WHO, FAO and OIE on food safety and toxicology, and for zoonotic diseases such as rabies and avian influenza," said Russell. He has spent a lifetime working in the area of food safety and toxicology and has given scientific presentations on current food safety problems throughout the world. Russell has also dedicated many years to teaching and research of zoonotic diseases, especially rabies.

Better teamwork is a must for all WVA officers, councilors and representatives, according to Russell. "As President, I want to create a mentoring system to help new and experienced representatives of national associations understand WVA's mission and how it is supposed to function most effectively," he explained. "In order to be a global leader, the WVA has to be the best in the world."

Russell has been an active member of the WVA's Veterinary Education Committee from 1994-1999, a Council member from 1999-2002 and Vice-President from 2002-2005. In addition, he has served as President of the Texas Veterinary Medical Association, American Veterinary Medical Association and American Association of Food Hygiene Veterinarians.

An internationally recognized expert in Public Health, Russell holds both a veterinary degree and a PhD, and is a board certified diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Preventive Medicine. Russell's outstanding contributions to international understanding of veterinary medicine were recognized with the XIIth International Veterinary Congress Prize in the year 2000.

With the election of Russell to the WVA's top leadership post, for a period of about 20 hours, the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences had three Aggies in key veterinary leadership positions simultaneously. Russell was elected president of the WVA on Tuesday, July 19; Travis McDermott, a fourth-year veterinary student from LaGrange, Texas, is currently serving as president of the Student AVMA until next March; and president of the AVMA, Bonnie Beaver, a professor in Small Animal Clinical Sciences, became immediate past president the day after Russell was elected.

"Dr. Russell will be a tremendous asset to the WVA. I am confident that his knowledge, dedication and enthusiasm will move the Association forward under his excellent leadership," said Dr. H. Richard Adams, Dean of the college. "It is quite a distinct honor to have Dr. Russell, Dr. Beaver and Mr. McDermott representing our college in such influential positions in the veterinary medicine arena. We are extremely proud of their achievements."

Contact Information:
Angela G. Clendenin
Director, Communications & Public Relations
Ofc - (979) 862-2675
Cell - (979) 739-5718

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