Texas A&M Professor Is First American Elected WVA President
August 02, 2005
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
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
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
"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
Angela G. Clendenin
Director, Communications & Public Relations
Ofc - (979) 862-2675
Cell - (979) 739-5718
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